Valley of the Bees
Written and directed by Frantisek Vlácil.
From the press release: “A visionary film from Frantisek Vlácil, whose Marketa Lazarova (1967) was voted the Best Czech Film of All Time. Set in the 13th century, this raw and powerful epic pits Christianity against paganism in the story of a twelve-year-old as he joins the Brotherhood of the Teutonic Knights. Valley of the Bees is filled with searing imagery reminiscent of Eisenstein’s Alexander Nevsky.” Peter Hames observed “the leading characters are destroyed by the logic of their own passions, which include ‘technical’ incest and unacknowledged homosexuality.”
While watching it, other films came to mind: Tarkovsky’s Andrei Rublev (1969), Bresson’s Lancelot du Lac (1974), and Pasolini’s Oedipus Rex (1967). Vlácil’s recreation of the barely civilized medieval countryside is a scrubby, barren region with death hanging at every corner. Even moments of tenderness, such as the interlude with the young blind girl, are gloomy and transient.
New on DVD from Facets.
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