Monday, July 15, 2013

All My Good Countrymen (1968)

All My Good Countrymen • Všichni dobří rodáci (1968)
All My Good Countrymen • Všichni dobří rodáci (1968)
Czech New Wave
Genre: Drama
Director: Vojtěch Jasný
Starring: Radoslav Brzobohatý, Věra Galatíková, Vlastimil Brodský, Eva Blažková, Waldemar Matuška, Marie Málková, Vladimír Menšík
Language: Czech
Duration: 114 min.
Rating: 7.5
Summary:
A post WWII portrait of a picturesque Moravian village, that follows the lives of its inhabitants in rapidly changing political and economic times.
All My Good Countrymen, also known as All My Compatriots, is a film written and directed by Czech filmmaker Vojtech Jasný (who at 87, was recently honored with the President's Award at the 2013 Karlovy Vary International Film Festival). The film premiered in competition at the 1969 Cannes Film Festival where it received the award for Best Director, and a Special Mention from the Luchino Visconti led jury.

All My Good Countrymen • Všichni dobří rodáci (1968)

Something of a spiritual successor to Desire (1958), this one shares a similar setting and utilizes much of the same beautiful natural scenery, but with a less overall lyrical and abstract purpose. Jasný still provides us with plenty of visual poetry to be deciphered, but his story and message are mostly to the point, with the dreamy images serving as an exclamation point to the often documentary like segments.

It picks up in 1945, just after the end of WWII, in a village in the countryside newly freed from German occupation. A seemingly pastoral paradise where all is well and everyone gets along without a care in the world. As we get to see through children running around with loaded pistols, and landmines carelessly handled without even a hint of tragic consequence. It's told in a sequence of vignettes loosely following the four seasons that eventually takes us to the cold winter of 1958 where the end results of communism and forced collectivization are what remains of the once happy and innocent village.

All My Good Countrymen • Všichni dobří rodáci (1968)

Though it's just shy of two hours, watching this feels like a much longer epic. Which is sometimes great, as we get a comprehensive look at the village, the various characters and their evolving relationships. It's clear that Jasný knows the era and setting well, because he leaves out no detail, and watching it makes us feel transported to that place and time. However, there are moments when the film feels like it's going nowhere on purpose, as if it's moving very slowly towards a largely predictable destination. Then there are others, especially in the second half where things are most fascinating, where it feels rushed towards a conclusion.

Pacing issues aside, it remains a strong cinematic experience. Beautifully capturing that timeless quality and universal emotion like so many other films of the Czech New Wave. Fans of the era, and natives will likely get more out of it, but you don't have to know anything about the history or the rural lifestyle to understand or be moved by what the characters go through.
Bonjour Tristesse
All My Good Countrymen • Všichni dobří rodáci (1968)

All My Good Countrymen • Všichni dobří rodáci (1968)

All My Good Countrymen • Všichni dobří rodáci (1968)

All My Good Countrymen • Všichni dobří rodáci (1968)

All My Good Countrymen • Všichni dobří rodáci (1968)

All My Good Countrymen • Všichni dobří rodáci (1968)

All My Good Countrymen • Všichni dobří rodáci (1968)

All My Good Countrymen • Všichni dobří rodáci (1968)

2 comments:

Bonjour Tristesse said...

I could see the pace getting to me. Honestly, if I hadn't read this I'd probably stop watching this one right when it felt like it was going nowhere on purpose. On to the list!

Bonjour Tristesse said...

Hey just wondering if you're interested in contributing to our '1001 Overlooked Movies' project over at The Movie Waffler? All the details are here. http://www.themoviewaffler.com/2013/07/1001-overlooked-movies-call-for.html

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