Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The End of a Priest (1968)

The End of a Priest • Faráruv konec (1968)
The End of a Priest • Faráruv konec (1968)
Czech New Wave
Genre: Comedy
Director: Evald Schorm
Starring:  Vlastimil Brodský, Jan Libícek, Jana Brejchová, Zdena Salivarová, Jaroslav Satoranský
Language: Czech
Duration: 96 min.
Rating: 7.4
Summary:
A bumbling sexton mistaken for a priest, takes over a vacant post in a remote mountain village, to the dismay of the local teacher, a proud atheist.
The End of a Priest is a film directed by Evald Schorm, from a screenplay written by Josef Škvorecký. It screened in competition at the 1969 Cannes Film Festival. However, it was one of a number of Schorm's films that were banned and got him labeled as a 'political undesirable' in Czechoslovakia. A black mark that ultimately prevented him from working in cinema again until the fall of the Iron Curtain.

It's a moral comedy centered on a sexton (Vlastimil Brodský), who passes himself off as a priest, and disturbs the status quo in a remote Bohemian village, where a portly, atheist and Communist teacher (Jan Libícek), rules the roost. Although he is at first reluctant to take on the duties and responsibilities of a priest, he is quickly swayed by the predominately traditional and superstitious locals, who welcome him with open arms, not realizing he is an imposter. It isn't long until these men of opposing beliefs find themselves butting heads, leading to an inevitable violent conclusion.

The film's satirical narrative is broken up by short amusing interludes foreshadowing upcoming events, which are performed by costumed musical players on a carnival stage. There are aspects of the bible strongly hinted at, and Schorm also uses a good measure of outrageous comedy to illustrate the absurdity of the contemporary political situation. All of the characters serve as symbols and representations of 1950's Czechoslovak society as a whole.

There are some really funny performances, especially from the leads Brodský and Libícek, as well as a welcome turn from the stunning Jana Brejchová (who was at the time married to Brodský), as the town floozy who falls for the priest.

The humor is sharp at times, blunt at others, and leaves us with something of an ominous swan song to the Czech New Wave (it premiered right before the Soviet invasion began). Realistically though, this film offers very little to relate to, for anyone not already familiar with, or especially keen on, that period of history. So not the best place to start, but a solid place to continue, for those looking for more.
Bonjour Tristesse
The End of a Priest • Faráruv konec (1968)

The End of a Priest • Faráruv konec (1968)

The End of a Priest • Faráruv konec (1968)

The End of a Priest • Faráruv konec (1968)

The End of a Priest • Faráruv konec (1968)

The End of a Priest • Faráruv konec (1968)

The End of a Priest • Faráruv konec (1968)

The End of a Priest • Faráruv konec (1968)

7 comments:

Bonjour Tristesse said...

It's a shame I'm gonna need more of a background for this one because it really does look like fun. I'll just keep it in the list for later and enjoy it when the time is right.

Bonjour Tristesse said...

Another nice review in your Czech New Wave series. How many are left? I feel I have so many blind spots in this area of films now!

Bonjour Tristesse said...

I'm getting closer to completing this feature, there are about a dozen more on my list. Actually there are quite a few more that I want to eventually see, but many of them either don't have subtitles or are not available on any format, yet.

Bonjour Tristesse said...

Looks VERY interesting but as you say, maybe not the first film to check out considering my unfamiliarity. Very nice review!

Bonjour Tristesse said...

Another for the list.

I love the look of this film... and I am one of those always looking for more when it comes to the Czech New Wave.

In fact I just got Mother Joan of the Angels in my mail today (rubs hands with glee) so I get to indulge myself with that one later tonight.

Bonjour Tristesse said...

Well, thanks for taking the time to read and comment. Hopefully I'll uncover something in this series that I can recommend for you soon.

Bonjour Tristesse said...

Always looking for more... yep. When I first started doing my research for this series, I only had about 20 films on the list. Now I've got close to 100, and I'm sure there are still dozens I've not even heard about yet.

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