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Czechoslovakia, 1958 (MIFF 1959, Programme 5)

Director: J. Weiss

A small town in Moravia is the setting for this psychological drama, based on the novel of the same name by Jarmila Glazarova. A young girl. Jana, is accepted as a ward by her relatives. In the musty and dismal atmosphere of her new home, full of patrician luxury and provincial prejudice, she becomes aware of the tragedy surrounding their marriage. The milieu of a small town, its petty scandals, envy and malice, is another discovery for Jana.

Her uncle Robert, a veterinary, is spiritually wasting away under the preposterous care of Klara, his wife, who is twenty years his senior. The unspoiled Jana brings a certain wholesomeness to the gloomy house, throwing into relief the hysterical love and luxury which ensnares him. He becomes aware of the emptiness, the banality of his marriage, and falls deeply in love with the girl, clinging to her with all the desperation of the knowledge of his wrecked life. At the same time, he endeavours to break away outwardly. through his career, seeking the freedom and self reliance which was smothered by the possessive. domineering Klara. He cannot completely discard his present security and the illusion of false morality, and the conflict with his subconscious doubts is brought to a head by Klara's infirmity. Despite an essential change the film does not deviate from the spirit of the novel, sharply conveying the motive of conflict between convention and true love. It is outstanding for its acting, particularly of the two leading female roles, and for capturing the atmosphere of a provincial town in turn of century Czechoslovakia.

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