Monday, March 8, 2010

Kolja

I can't believe that I missed the Oscar's yesterday. I guess that's just one of the drawbacks about living overseas...some things just seem so far away. Oh well...missing the Oscar's and the Super Bowl is nothing when compared to all that I get to see and do over here in Europe.
But in honor of the Academy Awards I figured I'd post about one of my favorite movies, called Kolja (pronounced Kol-Ya). It's a Czech movie and it won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language film in 1997. Even though the movie is in Czech, with English subtitles, I've loved it ever since I first saw it in Atlanta in '97. Who would have thought that 12 years later I would end up living in the Czech Republic?
The film was directed by Jan Svěrák. His father, Zdeněk Svěrák, wrote the script and is the lead actor. The film begins in 1988 and the Soviet bloc has not yet collapsed. František Louka is a middle-aged man dedicated to bachelorhood and the pursuit of women. He is a concert cellist struggling to earn a living by playing funerals at the Prague crematorium because he lost his position with the philharmonic when the authorities blacklisted him as "politically unreliable". A friend offers him the chance to earn a lot of money by going through with a marriage of convenience to a Russian woman so she can stay in Czechoslovakia. However, the woman uses her new Czechoslovak citizenship to emigrate and join her boyfriend in West Germany.
The woman leaves her Russian-speaking 5-year-old son, Kolja, with her aunt. Unfortunately, the aunt dies and Louka has to take care of the boy as his next of kin. Plus it's not like he wants to alert the police as to what's going on. There is lots of confusion in the beginning because Louka only speaks Czech and the boy only speaks Russian. Over time a bond forms between the two. The secret police finally get wind of what's happened and threaten prison. Fortunately, the Velvet Revolution intervenes and Kolja is reunited with his mother. Needless to say it is bittersweet when Louka and Kolja say their goodbyes.

5 comments:

  1. I would also recommend you:
    Postřižiny (1980)-from the time of the first republic, comedy and very poetic, little town and a small brewery
    Samotáři (2000)-about life of twentysomething people in Prague, strange and crazy situations, rather calm pace, funny, weed smoking now and again
    Kulový blesk (1978)-a flat market in Prague during a communist era wasn’t very sufficient, so people had to figure it out by themselves, poetic and funny, nice music
    Na samotě u lesa (1976)-a weekend cottage with an old man, which might be a grandad, funny

    Try them, they are nice :-) I hope they exist with subtitles or dubbing.

    Sarka

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  2. Lovely post. I appreciate the recommendations of your first commentator.

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  3. I forgot to mention Vrchní, prchni (1980) and Pelíšky (1998). These are undoubtly a classic part of a czech cinematography.

    The first one is about a man who was considered as a waiter by mistake and was given money in a restaurant. Then he started to do this for living... funny. Czechs could watch this again and again.
    Pelíšky is set in 1968. It's rather a comedy with some sad moments. It shows how czech families (or probably many families across cultures) functionate, I would say.

    All of these movies I mentioned above are loved by Czechs.

    Sarka

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  4. I have already sent link on Paatyia's youtube channel where one could find czech movies with english subtitles... unfortunately the account was erased:( Probably due to the copyright violation:(

    But another interesting offer: http://docalliancefilms.com/ these are documentary movies which were nominated for Czech lion award (something like Oscars). You can watch all the movies online for FREE until 21.3! I recommend czech documentary Welcome to the North Korea! - group of czechs tour communist North Korea. The koreans treat them as a state delegation:) There are many other quality documentaries, everything is with english subtitles

    Petr

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  5. Šarka & Petr,

    Thanks for the movie advice!! I'll see what I can find.
    Cheers!
    Christopher

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