František Vláčil, Czech Republic, 1967, DCP, 160′, English subtitles
Film courtesy of Národní filmový archiv (NFA).
A grimly poetic depiction of a feud between two rival medieval clans and with that, of a brutal transformation of a naive girl into a passionate, defiant heroine. Marketa Lazarová is an epic portrayal of the clash between Christianity and paganism, humanity and nature, love and violence that will sweep you off your feet with a rush of sensation, switching from the manic to the contemplative, from the horrific to the erotic. Based on the ballad-like prose of Vladislav Vančura, this stylistically outstanding and utterly unique medieval epic is a justly acknowledged milestone of Czech cinema.
“Two anecdotes appear to be commonly associated with František Vláčil’s magnum opus Marketa Lazarová. The more famous one is that it was voted by critics as the best Czech film ever made. The other one is that the entire crew spent a year living in the wild, using only historical means of survival in order to create such material conditions as to be able to see through the eyes of medieval humans. This experience as part of the creative process came to be part of the film itself, as it is in many ways unlike anything else done by the makers.”
– Milan Kroulík, The Cine-Files