Director: Evald Schorm
Starring: Jana Brejchová, Jan Kacer, Jirina Jirásková, Vlastimil Brodský
Duration: 85 min.
An existential study of a young worker living in Prague before the collapse of communism.
Courage for Every Day is a the debut feature film from Czechoslovak New Wave director Evald Schorm. It premiered at the 1966 Locarno International Film Festival where it received the Golden Leopard for Best Feature Film.
Set in post-war Prague, the film follows Jaroslav Lukas (Jan Kacer), a young worker who works in a large factory. For several years now he has been an outspoken socialist and political activist. However, the country is in the midst of social change and Lukas is caught in a moral and existential crisis as he struggles to find his place in the new political climate. Disillusioned and shunned by a society at odds with his long held ideals, Lukas begins a dangerous downward spiral.
I found this one a bit of a challenging watch compared to most of the other Czech New Wave films. The protagonist, a communist worker with a penchant for alcohol and fisticuffs was difficult to relate to, and the surrounding cast of hypocrites, schemers, and opportunists were even less sympathetic. However, Schorm does build a very convincing mood of hopelessness and insignificance and makes a strong case for the ease in which a younger generation can be mislead. It also features some fine cinematography, capturing the look of 1960's Prague and features stunning Czech screen siren Jana Brejchová (Desire) playing the love interest Vera.
Despite my difficulties with the characters, I still think this is a beautiful and worthwhile entry to the Czech New Wave. One that I may have to revisit again in the future with a greater understanding.
— Bonjour Tristesse