Marketa Lazarová
Film Info
Premiere Status:Czech Republic
Year of Prod:1966
Running Time:162
Original Language:Czech
dir:Frantisek Vlácil
prod:Josef Ouzký
scr:Frantisek Pavlícek
Frantisek Vlácil
cam:Bedrich Batka
editor:Miroslav Hájek
mus:Zdenek Liska
cast:Josef Kemr
Magda Vásáryová
Jaroslav Moucka
Frantisek Velecky´
Upon its release in 1966, Variety declared Marketa Lazarová—with its three-hour length, elliptical, dream-like narrative and totally foreign flavor—"a stunning work... unsuitable for general commercial release." Now recognized as an epic Gothic tale, this monumental Czech masterpiece is a film whose audience has finally caught up with it. Set in the remote forests of Bohemia in the 13th century, the complex plot is woven around the abduction and brutal rape of Marketa Lazarová, a clan leader's angelic, convent-bound daughter, by a fierce pagan warrior. Forgoing the temptation to reduce the story to a simple highwayman adventure, filmmaker Frantisek Vlácil—known for his poetic lyricism—revives the age in all its stark details, penetrating into the hearts and minds of his ancestors, into the world of Gothic man. In the process, he employs haunting photography and searing religious imagery to give the story the emotion of an atavistic nightmare, a cinematic poem difficult to categorize in terms of genre or form. As a metaphor for the clash between the old and the new, the declining pagan world as it succumbed to the rise of Christianity, the film also presages the changes that would sweep modern-day Czechoslovakia at the dusk of socialism. This rarely seen work—six years in the making—evokes Kurosawa or Mizoguchi: intense, poetic and devastatingly cinematic.
-Albert Johnson
Additional Information

Frantisek Vlácil

Michael Brooke, writing in Sight and Sound says of Czech director Frantisek Vlácil (1924-1999), “What all [his films] have in common, though, is a painter’s eye for telling and/or dissonant detail, an intensely realised sense of period and place, a preference for music over dialogue and a strong affinity with landscapes and their natural flora and fauna.” Among his honors are the 1994 Czech Lions’ Artistic Achievement Awards and in 1998, the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival bestowed upon him its Special Prize for Outstanding Contribution to World Cinema. Among his films are The White Dove (SFIFF 1961), The Devil’s Trap (1962), Marketa Lazarová (1967), Valley of the Bees (1968), Smoke on the Potato Fields (1977), Shadows of a Hot Summer (1978), The Shadow of the Ferns (1984) and Mág (1988).