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Jiri Menzel, Full throttle


(Votes count 384)

(Rating average 2,97)

jiri menzel
The first memory is from 1966, when Hollywood decides to give the Oscar to the Best Film in a Foreign Language to a humble Czech film with a fantastic title: Closely watched Trains (Ostre sledované vlaki). The film, disguised as a small story, dealt with the huge topic of resistance against the German invasion. The adaptation of a novel by Bohumil Hrabal was Jirí Menzel's first film as a director, and he managed to infuse each of the frames with the mysterious Central European gene that makes tales coming from the former Republic unique.
Jirí Menzel's first action of merit took place earlier, though. It took place on the day he was expelled from Prague's film academy. Been thrown out of a school is always good news to shake off the restrictions the artist will later have to unlearn. Menzel was later readmitted thanks to the intervention of one of his professors and, good for him, he managed to keep his rebellious spirit intact during his time at the Academy. Indomitable, his next works will confirm him as one of the most personal voices of his time. He became one of the big names of the New Wave of Czech films, one of these generations where artists gather to reshape the landscape armed with satire, heterodoxy and determination.

In the late seventies our man will be one of the recurring targets of censorship after the Prague Spring. Censors try to hinder the creation of such incissive films as Crime in the Night Club (Zlocin v santánu, 1968), which will not see the light until 1990, when it won a Golden Bear in Berlin Film Festival. Menzel will get his creative freedom back in the early 80's, when he perseveres in the adaptation of texts by Hrabal, such as Cutting It Short (Postriziny, 1980), Snowdrop Festival (Slavnosti snezenek, 1983) or My Sweet Little Village (Vesnicko má stredisková, 1985).

He took shelter for a while in the warmth of theatre, and showed up as an actor in films by others, such as The Little Apocalypse (Costa-Gavras, 1992) and delivering films which were even released in our country, such as I served the King of England (Obsluhoval jsem anglického krále, 2006). Menzel has come to FICX to present the intellectual and sensual fable The Don Juans (2013). He has also come to let the cierzo wind blow over him and to make it perfectly clear that humour, daring and exuberance in life are the last things one should lose.