Skylarks On A String

Skylarks on the String

The country that used to be Czhechoslovakia, establishing the socialist republic and people’s democracy in the wake of the February actions of ’48 has, like many other countries, lived through various problems of passage to socialism, the events of ’68, and disintegration. Larks on a String (1969) by Jirí Menzel, brings forth such a period with its delicate satire and powerful humor. The film is focused on a group of people working in a field where scraps are put to good use in steel production. A workers’ representative looking like a businessman with his suit and suitcase, the director shooting a film-in-film, the voluntary workers mostly of bourgeois origins working among the scraps, the professor of philosophy, the district attor ney, the barber, Tiny the washtub manufacturer, Pavel the cook, the saxophone player (saxophone playing has been forbidden as it is a bourgeois instrument), the milkman, etc… Among them, only the workers’ representative has working class origins but he looks like a businessman and never works as he’s the head of workers. He just keeps strolling around. The workers react against the workers’ representative. Voluntary workers discussing Kant, Picasso, Chaplin, and the Jew geniuses in the world and always arguing, workers who “get lost” because they have criticised, officials who couldn’t spread the red rug on time, party functional who cannot walk on the rug, the bride who cannot come to the wedding because of the laws, Pavel the cook who cannot enter the bridal chamber even though he’s married, are all a part, an image of and therefore a critic of socialism. The fact that everything looks unsteady is nonfunctional, and only said but not done, a life being led of continuous propaganda, and the fact that it’s all funny, line up as criticisms of the new order. The fact is that ex-Czechoslovakia does not have its share of this powerful and artful critic… Ruken Öztürk

Czech Republic
100'
1990

Director
Jiri Menzel

Script
Bohumil Hrabal
Jiri Menzel

Cinematography
Jaromir Sofre

Editing
Jirina Lukesová

Production
Barrandov Film Studio

Cast
Ferdinand Kruta
Frantisek Rehk
Jitka Zelenohorsk
Nada Urbnkov
Rudolf Hrusnski
Vclav Neckr
Vladimir Ptček
Vlastimil Brodski

Music
Jiri Sust

Awards
Berlin 1990
FIPRESCI Award
Golden Bear

Festivals
5th Festival on Wheels
USTA RESPECT: Jiri Menzel