Marketa Lazarová

Movie Information

In Brief: I have read that, in a 1998 survey of Czech critics, Frantisek Vlácil’s Marketa Lazarová (1967) was voted the greatest Czech film ever made. Setting aside the questions of how many Czech critics there are and just how much competition there is for that accolade (oh, I’ll get mail for that), I have to say that I simply don’t “get it.” Indeed, I find the film itself verging on the incomprehensible and — at 158 minutes — one tough slog. That said, I freely concede that it is a visually stunning work. Its widescreen compositions are invariably striking, and Vlácil’s technical mastery is without question — hence the four-star rating. But the story of a feud between two 13th-century clans, one Christian and one pagan, with the title character at its center didn’t do much for me. I’ve seen it compared to Seven Samurai (1954), Andrei Rublev (1966) and The Seventh Seal (1957), but I don’t see much connection with those. As drama, it simply didn’t connect with me on any level, but I’m not writing it off or saying it’s bad — merely, that it’s not for me. Those with a strong interest in Eastern European film may well feel differently. And, visually, it is indeed something to see.
Genre: Drama
Director: Frantisek Vlácil
Starring: Magda Vásáryová, Josef Kemr, Nada Hejna, Jaroslav Moucka, Frantisek Velecký
Rated: NR

Classic World Cinema by Courtyard Gallery will present Marketa Lazarová Friday, May 27, at 8 p.m. at Phil Mechanic Studios, 109 Roberts St., River Arts District (upstairs in the Railroad Library).  Info: 828-273-3332,

About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress from December 2000 until his death in June 2016. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

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