Falling out with his father over the older man’s plans to marry a beautiful younger woman, headstrong youngster Ondrej (Petr Čepek) is sent away to apprentice with a strict order of Teutonic knights on the Baltic coast. Years later the grown-up Ondrej deserts the knights to return to his home village in Bohemia with revenge in mind, pursued by his pious mentor Armin (Jan Kačer), who hopes to stop him before it’s too late. The examination of religious intolerance and political oppression in this adventure set in the Middle Ages undoubtedly contained allegorical resonance for contemporary Czechoslovak audiences, as it will for today’s viewers. –AFI
Frantisek Vlacil was born in Cesky Tesin and spent his childhood and early adulthood in northern Moravia and Brno. His father was an attorney, but, at the end of World War I, after he returned from his sojourn with the Czech Legion in Russia, he remained in the military. His mother was Czech, but when she was six months old, her family moved to Russia. She returned to Czechoslovakia in 1919.
Frantisek started to display artistic talent at a very early age. After completing secondary school, he studied at the Philosophical Faculty of Masaryk University in Brno from 1945 to 1949, specializing in art history and aesthetics. At the same time, he was active in a Brno-based puppetry and animated film group as well as at a studio that produced popular scientific educational films. He became a permanent employee of the latter in 1947 and gradually became acquainted with all of the professions involved in production. In 1951, on the basis of a decree issued by Minister of National Defense… read more
Extraordinary, powerful story of medieval fanatacism, and beautiful in its pared-down simplicity
If you want a stark understanding of the difference between a transportive work of art and an immersive work of art, you could do worse than