Director: Milos Forman
Starring: Ladislav Jakim, Pavla Martinkova, Jan Vostrcil, Vladimír Pucholt
Duration: 85 min.
Chronicling a few days in the life of 17-year-old Petr. A shy teen just starting his first job, falling in love, and dealing with overbearing parents.
Black Peter is the debut feature film from Czech New Wave and later Hollywood filmmaker Milos Forman. It screened at the 1964 Locarno Film Festival, winning the Golden Sail for Best Feature.
In this first real example of the blooming Czechoslovak New Wave, Forman takes cues from contemporary French giants Truffaut and Godard and emerges with his own fascinating style. Filmed in a documentary like fashion, the voyeuristic camera buzzes around the characters, all played by non-professional actors, sometimes in extremely tight close ups, other times observing the action from a careful distance.
Aside from the loose premise that follows young Peter (Ladislav Jakim), who is starting work for the first time, while also awkwardly courting the beautiful Asa (Pavla Martinkova), there is no real story or purpose here. The film is simply a free flowing slice of life, with partially improvised scenes which all play out authentically and naturally, punctuated with brilliant moments of humor that heighten the youthful and energetic tone.
Despite its era and locale, the themes explored are eternally relevant. It captures the social and psychological state of Peter and his friends literally coming of age; a fantastic sequence at an evening dance party is a spot on depiction of the feelings of insecurity and self consciousness of teens trying to find their place in the world. As well as the inter-generational conflict between Peter and his traditionalist father, who try as he might, can't seem to hammer his old school point of view home to his aloof and carefree son.
Black Peter is slight and seems to be about nothing, but it is an enjoyable, easy to watch and relate to film that wonderfully ushers in this new wave of cinema. A timeless and funny classic from one of the finest directors, Czech or otherwise.
— Bonjour Tristesse