Well,this thread could certainly use a few more posts! I thought this film was remarkable, and certainly deserves more discussion than it's thus far received.
I bought the František Vláčil boxset, and I can only hope that SR releases more of Vláčil's work (White Dove, anyone? I never say never, but it's as close to a cinematic certainty as you'll ever get that I've no intention of watching a Facets release ever again, barring a drastic improvement in their image quality, timing/completeness of subs, etc.) in the near future.
The way Vláčil stages the slow awakening of voyeuristic desire in both Viktor and Adelheid through slow takes and minimal dialogue (esp. since for the most part, the the two characters can't communicate with each other) is marvelous. Why is Viktor so drawn to Adelheid when he otherwise wants to withdraw from the world? What does she see in him?--it remains only obliquely hinted at, even in their final converation. The use of the bullet-riddled painting on the wall (and bullet-riddled walls/doors in general!) is an effective way of foreshadowing the senseless violence (embodied not only in the local Czech official, but also Adelheid's brother) that will destroy whatever chance of happiness existed. But the idea of a consensual relationship between Adelheid and Victor is never confirmed; she remains enigmatic, even as the film condemns the Czechs' treatment of the Sudeten Germans in the post-war years.
Of the three Vláčil films I've seen (all SR releases), this is the first set in the twentieth century, but it still employs liberal use of voice-over when the speaking character is still onscreen, giving an air of reminiscence (and, I guess, identification of the spectator with the remembering speaker) to the proceedings, almost as if there's an air of unreality produced by the fogginess of memory. Here, however, it's easier to follow, since the film is in color and the contrast ratio is clearer than, for example, Marketa Lazarova. Moreover, Vláčil makes judicious use of b&w in subjective flashbacks (and at the end!) so that the explicit reminiscences become extra-blurry because of contrast.
All that said, the film remains a damning critique of the Czechs' treatment of collaborators and Germans in the post-war years. Compare it to Jan Hrebejk's Musíme si pomahat ("Divided We Stand" a finalist for the Oscar for best foreign film in 2001), which all-too-briefly touches on the issue, and lets it drop. It's also an investigation of the horrific past that's occured on these very lands and a meditation on who's to be held responsible for it. Adelheid is my third-fave Vláčil (after Valley of the Bees and Marketa Lazarová, respectively) so far, but it remains a powerful document of a period in Central European history that the locals would rather forget. It's easy to critique the Germans for their collective amnesia during the decade+ immediately following the end of WWII, but requires a bit more honesty for their victims to do the same, and I think Adelheid accomplishes that very well, and with a great deal more honesty than you see in any other films from the region in the twenty years or so following the war. This is such an important release from SR.