The Sun in a Net DVD
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Directed by Stefan Uher
Produced in 1962
Main Language - Slovakian
Stefan Uher's exquisite, groundbreaking feature combines daring social criticism, surprising sexual frankness and an exhilarating approach to the film medium, writes Michael Brooke.
Most well-informed film buffs can probably cite the key figures who shook up Czechoslovak cinema in the 1960s without cheating: there’s Miloš Forman, of course, and Jiří Menzel, Věra Chytilová, Juraj Herz, Ivan Passer and František Vláčil. But the fact that Vláčil had to wait until 2007 (eight years after his death) for proper recognition in the English-speaking world when Second Run disinterred his masterpiece Marketa Lazarová suggests that there’s much more to discover - and in giving The Sun in a Net its extremely belated British premiere, the same label is finally letting us sample the work of Štefan Uher (1930-93), unquestionably one of the Czechoslovak New Wave’s most important and influential figures.
Indeed, Czech and Slovak critics widely recognise The Sun in a Net as the film that kickstarted the movement in the first place (its Le Beau Serge, its Room at the Top), and its international neglect seems primarily linked to the fact that it was shot in Bratislava (and Slovak) rather than Prague (and Czech). Ostensibly, it’s a youthful love story of a type familiar to cinema audiences the world over (Bela and Fajolo are trying to keep their relationship going against a backdrop of family conflict, involuntary separation and temptation from others), but what gave The Sun in the Net its peculiar distinction is the way that it combined complex and often unresolved social criticism (very daring for the time, given widespread censorship), surprising sexual frankness, and an exhilaratingly freewheeling, decidedly non-linear and almost experimental approach to the film medium, in which memories and fantasies are treated as matter-of-factly as actual events, and are studded with powerfully symbolic moments (notably the central eclipse of the sun, or Bratislava’s roofs teeming with spiky aerials). It showed Uher’s contemporaries what they could get away with, thus directly triggering one of film history’s great creative explosions, but it was also a substantial popular hit, at least within Czechoslovakia’s borders. And though the rest of us have had to wait half a century to catch up, this is very much our loss.
Michael Brooke on 17th June 2013
Author of 154 reviews
Stefan Uher's exquisite, groundbreaking feature, The Sun in a Net is consistently ranked among the greatest films in the history of Czechoslovak cinema and is cited as the film that kick-started the whole 'Czechoslovak New Wave' movement.
Bringing to the screen a number of hitherto unacceptable social and political themes, the film is a complex interplay of sunlight and darkness, sound and silence, vision and blindness, truth and lies.
Publisher: Second Run
Length: 90 mins
Aspect ratio: 4:3
Format: DVD B&W
Released: 12th August 2013
Cat No: SECONDRUN081
- Interviews: Peter Strickland