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The Sun in a Net (Slnko v sieti) [DVD]
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Stefan Uher's exquisite, groundbreaking feature is consistently ranked among the greatest films in the history of Czechoslovak cinema and is cited as the film that kick-started the whole 'Czechoslovak New Wave' movement.
Bringing to the screen a number of hitherto unacceptable social and political themes, THE SUN IN A NET is a complex interplay of sunlight and darkness, sound and silence, vision and blindness, truth and lies. We are delighted to bring this masterpiece of East European cinema to UK audiences for the very first time.
"The Sun in a Net is still fresh and young, complex and rewarding. It has the vivacity and love of life that we found in the early films of Truffaut, for example. The only mystery is why has it been unknown outside Czechoslovakia for almost half a century?" - Senses of Cinema
- A superb new HD transfer with restored picture and sound.
- A filmed appreciation by Berberian Sound Studio director Peter Strickland.
- 20-page booklet featuring a new essay by author Peter Hames.
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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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›