Director: Vera Chytilová, Jaromil Jires, Jirí Menzel, Jan Nemec, Evald Schorm
Starring: Pavla Marsálková, Ferdinand Kruta, Alois Vachek, Milos Cirnácty, Frantisek Havel, Josefa Pechlátová, Václav Zák, Vera Mrázková, Vladimír Boudník, Dana Valtová, Ivan Vyskocil
Duration: 107 min.
Five seminal figures from the 1960s Czech New Wave contribute engaging short films, each adapted from a different tale by renowned author Bohumil Hrabal to this pivotal anthology.
Pearls of the Deep is a compilation of short films based on the writings of Czech author Bohumil Hrabal, each one directed by an important figure of the Czechoslovak New Wave, Jirí Menzel, Jan Nemec, Evald Schorm, Vera Chytilová, and Jaromil Jires.
The first segment is directed by Jirí Menzel, and titled The Death of Mr. Baltazar. It follows a mechanic and his wife as they attend a motorcycle grand prix race at Brno. It has some impressive footage of the bikes and riders, fascinating stuff if you are a fan of classic motorcycles like myself, and the overall atmosphere gives a true feeling of being a spectator at the race. It also has some some great poetic dialog as well but is light on story and will probably be boring to most.
The second segment is called Imposters and is directed by Jan Nemec (The Party and the Guests). The shortest one of the bunch, it follows two elderly men in the hospital who tell tales of their glory days to each other. Interesting to see the beginnings of Nemec's style and it has a couple of good natural performances, but the scenario is rather dry.
The middle piece, The House of Joy is the only one in color and is directed by Evald Schorm (Courage for Every Day). It's an absurd tale of two insurance salesmen who try to sell a policy to an eccentric painter at home. It has a couple of funny moments, but is mostly a challenging and nonsensical mess.
The fourth is directed by Vera Chytilová and is titled Automatic World. It's set in a grungy diner where a raucous wedding reception is taking place, but the party soon gets interrupted when a dead body is discovered. This one takes a few bizarre and unexpected turns, and features some very intriguing imagery. I especially loved the ending to this one, and now I'm definitely looking forward to seeing more of Chytilová's work.
The last short, directed by Jaromil Jires is called Romance. The most charming story of the bunch, it follows a young man who after leaving the cinema spots a striking Roma girl and it's love at first sight. Their whirlwind encounter doesn't really go anywhere but it is a sweet and amusing watch and it plays out with that unmistakable New Wave feel.
As with most anthologies this one is hit and miss, with some captivating segments but also some utterly forgettable ones. However, it is still a very interesting look at the first steps of these soon to be important filmmakers at the beginning of the Czechoslovak New Wave movement.
— Bonjour Tristesse