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THE MAIDEN AND THE BEAST

Czechoslovakia, 1978 (MIFF 1980, Programme 36)

Director: Juraj Herz

Juraj Herz is Czechoslovakia's chief creator of fables, fairy stories and parables. His previous works seen at the festival include the grotesque joke called The Cremator and the mordant and elaborate good and evil story Morgiana. Herz has staked out a film-making territory that could be called a no man's land of cinematic prestidigitation quite consciously removed from the everyday.

The beauty and the beast story has been filmed by artists as diverse as Cocteau and Borowczwk, but Herz's version is rooted in quite realistic territory. His people are knee deep in mud and there is a gritty element to his settings.

Juraj Herz has filmed the story for its horror elements and has talked about his version of the legend:

"People still remember that rather elegant fairy tale by Cocteau. I'm shooting it in a rawer, coarser form. The place where the beast lives is not a comfortable castle, ready to welcome a princess. The beast is a real animal who merely has a human voice and conscience, and falls in love as a human being. But he feeds on raw meat and blood like a carnivorous animal."

Note: The title of the film is translated on the sub-titles as The Virgin and the Monster.

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