Directed by: Stefan Uher
Length: 90 mins
Region: Region 2
Released: 12 August 2013
Cat No: SECONDRUN081
Screen ratio 1:1.33
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The Sun in a Net
Czech New Wave drama directed by Stefan Uher. The film follows the relationship between Bela (Jana Beláková) and Fajolo (Marián Bielik)... Read More
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.