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COTTAGE NEAR A WOOD

Czechoslovakia, 1976 (MIFF 1977)

Director: Jiří Menzel

Jiří Menzel, director of Closely Watched Trams, returns with this study of the world-wide trend for suburban dwellers to move out to the country, buying up weekenders and holiday houses.

A middle-class, reasonably weil-to-do family, Mr and Mrs Lavicka and their two children, decide to buy a country cottage outside Prague Some of their friends have already bought old buildings and begun to restore them The Lavickas visit friends who have converted an old water-mill, restoring it down to the last detail, including the flour sacks, although these are now filled with sawdust When the couple hear their visitors arriving, the husband grabs his cloth cap, meerschaum pipe and dusts his clothes with flour to create the right atmosphere The cottage is complete with a stork perched outside on a pole, although the bird is stuffed, and has to be rushed inside when it rains.

The Lavickas are enchanted by country life, and immediately look around for a suitable property They find a charming cottage where old Komarek lives aione with his dog, goat and hens They come to an understanding the Lavickas will take over the cottage and renovate it, while Komarek will move out to live with his son The family spends the summer holidays repairing the cottage, with Mrs Lavicka struggling to cook and clean in primitive conditions, while her husband and children enjoy the rustic life But Komarek stays on He shows no sign of leaving, the children chatter to him, he has his meals cooked for him, and prefers the family activity to his former solitude Then Komarek falls ill and is taken to hospital with pneumonia, and the family expects the old man to die...

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