My Sweet Little Village

My Sweet Little Village

Jirí Menzel of the Czech New Wave is no stranger to those familiar with film festivals. There may even be people who have seen and do remember My Sweet Little Village. And you most probably have caught his Academy Award winner Closely Watched Trains on TV. In My Sweet Little Village, Menzel as ever creates and gives life to characters with all their details and depth and tells the story of a whole village with two people in the foreground. Or maybe we should say the stories of a village because sometimes when he’s handling people that he particularly emphasizes at that moment in the front, other characters live their own stories at the background. The essential duo brings Laurel and Hardy to mind somewhat. Short and stout Pavek and thin and tall Otik. Our location is an ordinary village in Czechovoslakia, and our characters are the ordinary people of such village. Local trucker Pavek and his assistant Otik fight all the time. Otik doesn’t talk, Pavek never stops. Jirí Menzel, who has served as chairman of the international jury at the Istanbul Film Festival is also an intelligent, witty man who easily gets in touch with people but who prefers to just oberve in cases when talking is not necessary, an attribute clearly reflected by his films. My Sweet Little Village is a typical Menzel film. The story of Pavek and Otik’s comedy duo, who make up the two halves of an undivided whole, is situated at the center of the film. But as mentioned above, theirs is not the only story. Everybody knows what everybody else is doing, we know what all of them are doing. Menzel and his script writer Sdenek Sverák present them to us: The absentminded doctor whose car never starts (The doctor played by Rudolf Hrusinsky is Menzel’s alter-ego, according to some), the young man in love with the teacher, the burecrat who drinks hard and is betrayed by his wife. The director acts as if he takes no pains but it’s obvious that he has shown special care in the creation of his characters. As for our main event, it comprises attempts of a bureucrat from Prague who wants to lay hands on gullible Otik’s house and strives to send him to Prague, deceiving Pavek himself. An incident of seizure masked as promotion. Otik is happy with the cottage where he lives with his pigeons and his dog. The Prague problem and in particular the fact that Pavel stays silent on his leaving the village, demoralizes him. As he’s just like a child, he’ll be completely defenseless in this big and foreign city that he doesn’t know at all. However, the people of his sweet little village will not accept him to be the subject of such unfairness. While Jirí Menzel adopts a loving attitude as usual towards his characters, he has solidified their characteristics with a balanced ensemble acting. Sevin Okyay

Czech Republic
102'
1985

Director
Jiri Menzel

Script
Zdenek Sverák

Cinematography
Jaromir Sofre

Editing
Jiri Brozek

Production
Barrandov Film Studio

Cast
János Bán
Marián Labuda
Milena Dvorská
Rudolf Hrusinsky

Music
Jiri Sust

Awards
Montreal 1986
Special Jury Prize

Festivals
5th Festival on Wheels
USTA RESPECT: Jiri Menzel