Monday, July 29, 2013

The Joke (1968)

The Joke • Žert (1968)
The Joke • Žert (1968)
Czech New Wave
Genre: Drama
Director: Jaromil Jireš
Starring: Josef Somr , Jana Dítětová , Luděk Munzar , Jaroslava Obermaierová , Evald Schorm , Milan Svrčina , Miloš Rejchrt , Věra Křesadlová , Jaromír Hanzlík
Language: Czech
Duration: 80 min.
Rating: 6.9
Summary:
The tale of a man expelled from the Communist Party because of a political joke.
The Joke is a film by Czechoslovak New Wave director Jaromil Jireš, adapted from a novel of the same name, written in 1967 by Czech novelist Milan Kundera. Another harsh political satire that was banned by the regime shortly after its release, it tells the story of an university student who's life is completely turned upside down after writing a silly joke to his girlfriend.

It stars Josef Somr as the former student Ludvik Jahn, who returns to his hometown after serving out stints in the army, forced labor camps, and military prison. By chance he meets the wife of one the Party leaders who got him expelled years ago. This prompts him to plot his revenge by seducing her.

The Joke • Žert (1968)

To make the straightforward narrative more refreshing, Jireš uses the curious technique of splicing together the past and the present seamlessly throughout. Though the story occurs in the present, Ludvik's thoughts are stuck in the past, and this is shown through these flashback, almost delusional sequences where he frequently recalls into the present frame, all the events and people who changed his life as a result of his joke.

While an interesting film with some beautiful moments, it doesn't quite have the same magic as some of the other politically critical works from this era. Despite its title, there's a lack of the wonderful dark humor that is so often the trademark of the Czech New Wave. It's message is too direct, leaving no room for mystery or contemplation. Also, the way the protagonist is portrayed could have been more sympathetic.
Bonjour Tristesse
The Joke • Žert (1968)

The Joke • Žert (1968)

The Joke • Žert (1968)

The Joke • Žert (1968)

The Joke • Žert (1968)

The Joke • Žert (1968)

The Joke • Žert (1968)

The Joke • Žert (1968)

1 comment:

Bonjour Tristesse said...

Actually, watching those first few minutes, and then reading up on what the whole thing was about made it curious. I guess I might just visit this one if I'm ever curious for more.

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