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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Groundbreaking `New wave' Slovak Film, 20 Sep 2013
By 
Tommy Dooley "Tom" (London, England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Sun in a Net (Slnko v sieti) [DVD] (DVD)
Recognised as one of the best and certainly influential Czechoslovakian films ever made, this has been given a new lease of life with a new release. Made in 1962 it was the first essentially Slovak film that took full advantage of the Communist relaxation on censorship. As such it was not only groundbreaking but also highly inspirational, but to see why that is this has to be viewed in context of when it came out.

The plot involves a photography obsessed student Fayolo, he lives in a grim apartment block in Bratislava. One of his neighbours is fifteen year old Bela. They spend time on the roof where their neighbours continue to grow a forest of aerials for the new television sets that are accumulating. Bela has to share the caring of her blind mother with her younger brother and deal with her belligerent father. Meanwhile Fayolo's dad wants him to do the `voluntary' summer work to enhance his own reputation with the Party. So after a teenage tiff with Bela he does just that and trundles off on the back of a tractor.

Once in the liberating mood of the less than `model' collective farm, he feels free to see another alluring young girl. Deep down he is still drawn to Bela whom he writes to, but she has started seeing someone else. So what will the future be on his return?

This is actually a hard story to sum up in a synopsis without giving the plot away. The whole point was that this was the `new wave' of Slovak cinema and that means the themes were the stars. Whether the extra marital relations or the criticism of the harvest system. It is also filmed beautifully in black and white and has a sound track that is never in the background. The repetition of a door slamming and the constant recorder music can be grating, but they are there for a purpose and it all becomes clear.

This is as the layers of secrecy are slowly pulled away to reveal the web of ties and lies that link all the main players together and when it ends you are left wit the feeling of knowing you have seen something really rather good and very different. This will not be for everyone, but fans of new wave sixties cinema and history fans will find a rich vein to mine here, highly recommended.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Czechoslovakian new wave gem, 20 Aug 2013
By 
HJ (London UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Sun in a Net (Slnko v sieti) [DVD] (DVD)
A teenage couple, Fayolo and Bela, are at a loose end hanging around their Bratislava tower block. After a quarrel Fayolo volunteers to go off to the countryside to help with the harvest at a farming co-op, leaving Bela behind, coming to terms with her mother's blindness. When Fayolo returns to Bratislava will he get back together with Bela?

British and American attempts to imitate the freewheeling French new wave style were generally unconvincing when not actually embarrassing. By contrast East European filmmakers seem to have assimilated the style with ease, so much so that Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary each had its very own illustrious new wave. Presumably, given the cold war, East European filmmakers were receptive to alternatives to both social realism and Hollywood and were acquainted with neo-realism and Bergman. Looking at the Polish films from the 1950s it seems that they had pretty much arrived at a new wave aesthetic even before Godard, Truffaut and the French got going.

The Czech new wave was very successful internationally in the 1960s on the basis of just a few films, but many other films are only now becoming accessible - thanks to DVD and companies like Second Run and Masters of Cinema. According to Peter Hames' informative essay in the DVD booklet, SUN IN A NET was actually the film that kick started the Czech New Wave, predating films like Loves of a Blonde, Closely Observed Trains etc by two or three years. However, the essay also points out that there are distinctions to be made between Czech and Slovak film, SUN IN A NET being a Slovak production.

As for the film itself - it's a gem, a 1962 film which stands up remarkably well in 2013. Fantastic cinematography and astounding editing and one of the most inventive soundtracks I've ever heard. The narrative is very sharp with lots of secondary characters, sub plots, themes and symbolism, but all done with an unforced natural light touch, lyrical yet unsentimental. If you got the recent DVD of Milos Foreman's brilliant Loves of a Blonde you'll want to get SUN IN A NET.

As an extra the DVD also includes a little filmed personal appreciation of the film by Berberian Sound Studio director Peter Strickland
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Catch it if you can., 5 Nov 2014
By 
Richard "Not here." (London, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Sun in a Net (Slnko v sieti) [DVD] (DVD)
First thing to say is that here's a very self-consciously stylish example of the European art-film of the early 60s and about a million light years away from popcorn entertainment. Presumably, if you are interested in it, you are up for for the sort of formal poetry associated with this kind of film-making and ready to engage with the narrative challenges typical of so much of this fare. If so, you can safely anticipate relishing a very tasty and fresh example in this case. As others have said, it's a little gem.

However, the hyperbole offered up by those praising it here and elsewhere is perhaps a little over-the-top. The average movie-goer of 1962 would probably have found it less-than entertaining and quite possibly annoying with it's exasperatingly elusive 'story'. It's actually a rather stereotypically poe-faced art cinema experience as parodied so mercilessly by Western stand-ups and sketch-writers looking to Eastern European entertainment. From the perspective of 2014, doubtless plenty will respond the same way too.

On the other hand, today's arthouse crowd will relish the period style and uncompromising auteur panache. In particular, the cinematography is excellent and the music and sonic character strikingly interesting. As a slice of pure period style, it's very enjoyable and distinctive. That said, it is very much of it's period, being essentially a local variation on the theme of a generational take on existentialism; heavy on the poetics and self-indulgently unconcerned with providing an engaging plot.

The director's 'playful' approach to cutting together visuals and sound in a choppy narrative is a little alienating (appropriate for the existential tone) so that, if you're not into the ride, you might suspect it to be a slow and self-indulgently obscurest trip to pseud's corner. But bear with it, and what accumulates is a bitter-sweet, coming-to-terms as our young protagonists feel their way towards some sense of their place in a dodgy cosmos. It closes in a melancholic place wherein the quest for happiness equates to little more than a striking a philosophy of accommodation. At least, that's my reading of it. It's a subtly made, fairly open-ended tale which you may pin-down differently (as I might too on a second viewing).

Hardly surprising that the Soviet censors sensed an implicit critique and dissatisfaction. But because it's essentially all expressed as a vibe rather than explicitly alluded to, this sober statement on the human condition is obviously generalised, and as relevant anywhere on the planet as in Czechoslovakia in 1962. So they evidently found it too intangible to get to grips with.

Many a viewer might too.

Though certainly not a dour a film by any means, this is a self-consciously, serious artistic statement which, in it's need to circumvent the censorship of it's time resorts to a storytelling approach which inevitably draws attention to itself. That can appear annoyingly self-indulgent at times, I found. But it also works to keep it fresh and idiosyncratic enough to reward return visits and, on balance, I'd say it's artfulness is lively and life-affirming.

Basically, though this film is not solid enough to qualify as an unreserved masterpiece for me, it is nevertheless, a lovely little treat.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Second Run DVD must have...again, 10 Nov 2013
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This review is from: The Sun in a Net (Slnko v sieti) [DVD] (DVD)
I can't beat Tommy's beautiful review here so i just want to express that i fully agree with what he has said and just want to shout out to every filmlover who wants to dig deeper than the average movie for sure has to see this beauty. The DVD stands high on my shelf next to all jewels from Bergman and Tarkovsky. A pity that there is not more available by Stefan Uher because this film longs you to see more of this lesser known director. Suffice to say highest possible recommendation.
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5.0 out of 5 stars It is a great film, I like it very much and enjoyed ..., 5 Sep 2014
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This review is from: The Sun in a Net (Slnko v sieti) [DVD] (DVD)
It is a great film,
I like it very much and enjoyed veawing it
JJM
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The Sun in a Net (Slnko v sieti) [DVD]
The Sun in a Net (Slnko v sieti) [DVD] by Stefan Uher (DVD - 2013)
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