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  • Mandragora [1997] [DVD]
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Mandragora [1997] [DVD]


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  • Actors: Miroslav Caslavka, David Svec, Pavel Skrípal, Kostas Zerdolaglu, Miroslav Breu
  • Directors: Wiktor Grodecki
  • Writers: David Svec, Wiktor Grodecki
  • Format: PAL
  • Language: Czech
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 4:3 - 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: 18
  • Studio: Millivres
  • DVD Release Date: 10 Mar. 2003
  • Run Time: 133 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00008IAU1
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 117,370 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Reviews

Sixteen-year-old Marak (Mirek Caslavka) arrives in Prague, penniless, and within minutes has been drugged by pimp Honza (Pavel Skripal) and turned into a male prostitute. After being beaten up by fellow hustlers for his failure to pay 'taxes', Marak realizes that the only way he can survive is to continue to trade his body for money. He is soon deeply involved in the world of pornography, drugs, and sex, with no means of escape open to him.

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

38 of 42 people found the following review helpful By B HERMSEN on 3 July 2003
Format: DVD
Some movies which are story-based could be seen as 'documentaries'. Director Wiktor Grodecki's first 'movie' (Body without soul) which was actualy ment as a documentary, tells about Chechish boys who come to Prague to earn money, but end up as prostitutes or 'actors' in porn movies. Perfect soberness and story-telling make that movie great.
Now the same director Wiktor Grodecki directs a 'movie' with a beginning and an end. (which you could call a story) And because of that choice, Grodecki makes the entire Prague-prostitute issue even more sober or 'dark'. His way of putting the scenes into picture cannot go beyond your imagination about tis particular porn/prostitute scene. Sometimes with tears in your eyes or with shivers running down your back! That feeling is exactly what makes this movie/documentary one of its finest or Top of the Bill!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Nicholas Casley TOP 500 REVIEWER on 15 Oct. 2010
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This is the motion picture version of the same director's earlier documentary `Body Without Soul', already reviewed by me on Amazon. (A `mandragora' in English appears to refer to the root vegetable `mandrake', which has - through its shape - both erotic and occult connotations. I wonder, though, whether in Czech the word might mean something along the lines of `mother-city', since towards the film's opening we see our young tragic hero Marek arriving at the Czech capital's railway station with the camera focussing prominently on a baroque plaque that declares Prague to be `mater urbium'.)

The film tells the story of fifteen-year-old Marek walking out of home and coming to Prague, where, as `fresh rabbit', he soon becomes embroiled in the seedy underworld of the city male prostitutes. He is soon taken under the wing of sixteen-year-old David. They start to make good money, but when Marek proposes investing it in a restaurant for their future, David invests their takings instead in buying out a pimp's coterie of young boys. Different pimps in the city dress their boys in different colours, a bit like different soccer teams.

Things do not go as planned for David and Marek and at one point they leave Prague and head home to their roots, but here too there are no easy answers amongst the grey drabness of the provinces. They blow their earnings and head back to the bright lights of Prague, David proclaiming, "There is no love without money." Older now, but no wiser, they are soon lured into the murky world of porn and drugs, as we see played out on the screen the acts portrayed in the director's previous documentary.

This is not a judgmental film.
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35 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Gerritt on 24 Nov. 2004
Format: DVD
DISCLAIMER:
Any unauthorized reproduction of my review (also in excerpts) will have legal consequences! The author.

I don't think Mr. Grodecki had the intention of turning one of the famous/famed Japanese boy love manga into a movie. But it surely looks as if he did!

The plot is simple: a runaway boy gets trapped in the vicious circle of prostitution, alcohol and drugs as he goes from rags to riches and back again. Still, the many sub-plots almost overload the film with high-piched drama and heartbreak. Everything you can think of in the Rise And Fall spectrum is there: seduction, rape, addiction, lust, perversion, betrayal, violent death, true love and fake love.

Still, the natural acting style of the non-professional performers (mostly RL hustlers and pimps) prevents "Mandragora" from being just another smooth, polished "coming-of-age-in-the-gutter" flick. To watch the kids wallow alternately in high hopes of wealth and suffer unspeakable pains when their hopes are crushed truly is heartwrenching.
This movie is not for the voyeur who finds pleasure in seeing the decline of appetizing, sexy youngsters. Far from being sexy and stimulating, it is brutal, merciless and harrowing - yet the film possesses a kind of tragic beauty and achingly beautiful melancholy.

I recommend "Mandragora" not only to fellow yaoi manga lovers but to everyone who is unafraid to go through the heights and depths of a revealing, pleasantly "old-fashioned" drama.
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15 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Alex on 26 April 2006
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Wiktor Grodecki's first actual 'film' of this genre is a decidedly solemn insight into the grungy underworld of Prague. The synopsis you will undoubtedly have read in other reviews of the same film, however I feel that what Grodecki is actually trying to portray through Mandragora has not been interpreted from all possible angles.

Mandragora can be either taken at face-value, whereby what you see is what you get: these boys have come to Prague in order to earn some cash and end up quickly being forcefully led into prostitution as the seemingly 'only way' to survive in this newly- capitalist country, or also looking at the reasons as to why they have run away in the first place. Sure, they may not be happy with their home lives but what possesses them to leave altogether (at such a young age- Grodecki refers to boys as young as 11 prostituting themselves) and set up a new life/existence in the seedy, unsafe neighbourhoods of the capital? Sure also, these families may not have much money to go around, but so do many families in other countries but you don't see their children running away to prostitute themselves, take part in porn films and eventually end up with some STD and in the worst case, AIDS, do you?

Grodecki's piece is a realistic, sensitive (and somewhat repulsive at times ref: blood and gore) portrayal of the darker-side of post-soviet era Prague, but I have to admit, despite the occasionally scratchy cinematography and poor translation of sub-titles (for those of us with a lack of Czech language ability), the young actors proved themselves reasonably professional.
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