Friday, 10 May 2019

Marketa Lazarov (Marketta Lazarova) (1967)

Marketa Lazarova
Well, I do not understand what I have just been watching. When I looked up “Marketa Lazarova” I was told that this is the best Czech movie ever. I hate to say this, but it does not bode well for the many Czech movies coming up.

The Best Czech Movie Ever takes place in medieval times, during the period where Christianity is competing with pagan Slavic beliefs in the Bohemian forests. There are some… clans I suppose they are, who are fighting each other. Some of them are bandits who plunders travelers. In one of the rickety castles is a girl called Marketa who wanted to be a nun, then she gets kidnapped and raped, only to fall in love with her rapist. Then she wants to be a nun again only to regret and be married to her dying rapist. There is also a girl called Alexandra who falls in love with a son of a bishop only to crush his head with a stone.

Everything else is a blur.

While this could have been an interesting medieval adventure drowns completely in surreal dream visions, weird cuts and disconnected scenes. I have no idea how the different characters relate to each other or why they do what they do, in as far as I get what they are actually doing. I did see a lot of killing, it is pretty graphic, but it seems more like an endless bloodbath than something with an actual point.

Speaking of point, can somebody tell me what the point of the movie was, please? Even Wikipedia, that elaborates on a plot that must be from a different movie from the one I saw, cannot tell me the point of this movie.

The soundtrack is good. Surprisingly good, actually. Often I could lean back confused, but enjoying the music. However, this peters out in the last third of the movie where we mostly hear grunting men. Much less charming. Also, the dubbing is sort of clumsy as you often have no idea who is actually talking.

Apparently, this was a ridiculously expensive movie to make and I can believe that. A lot has been made out of the costumes and the settings. There is a Game of Thrones feel to the roughness of the scenery and so much more regretful is it to see all that effort wasted away on a presentation that leaves the audience, well… me, baffled and confused. This had the makings of a great movie but throws it all away as it tries to be avant-garde. It is as if Bunuel or Godard were to direct Lord of the Rings. A terrible idea.

Probably I have completely missed the idea of this movie. This is after all The Best Czech Movie Ever so somebody saw something in it. I am just thinking Missed Opportunity.



  1. I love this movie. But I don't remember it well enough to answer any of your questions. The Eastern Europeans have a much different idea of storytelling. You can see that in the Russian films on the List. I haven't seen many Czech films aside from those on the List, but I've been a major Tarkovsky fan for decades. So maybe that helped me appreciate and enjoy Marketa Lazarova. I do remember that I didn't get too hung up on feeling confused from time to time.

    The other great Czech films that I absolutely love are Daisies and The Firemen's Ball.

    1. I have not yet watched anything by Tarkovsky, so I cannot compare with that. I loved The Shop on Main Street and I absolutely disliked Daisies, so I guess I am mixed on East European films.