This controversial feature blends documentary, archival footage and fiction into an elliptical narrative in which two young people in Prague, an ancient seat for the practice of alchemy, follow the trail for the mystical philosopher’s stone. History and future blend as brilliant montage sequences and fanciful leaps of the imagination work to posit questions about the legacy of the past and how it influences the individual’s personal freedom and responsibility. —IMDb
Jan Němec (July 12, 1936, Prague) is a Czech filmmaker whose most important work dates from the 1960s. Film historian Peter Hames has described him as the “enfant terrible of the Czech New Wave.”
Němec’s career as a filmmaker in the late 1950s when he attended FAMU, the most prestigious institution for film training in Czechoslovakia. At this time, Czechoslovakia was ruled by a puppet government subservient to the USSR and artistic and public expression was subject to censorship and government review. However, thanks largely to the failure of purely propagandist cinema in the early 1950s and the presence of important and powerful people within the Czechoslovak film industry, such as Jan Prochazka, the 1960s led to an internationally acknowledged creative surge in Czechoslovak film that became known as the Czech New Wave, in which Němec played an instrumental part.
As a graduation film, Němec adapted a short story by Arnošt Lustig based on the author’s experience of the… read more