mon 24/06/2024

DVD: The Sun in a Net | reviews, news & interviews

DVD: The Sun in a Net

DVD: The Sun in a Net

Striking 1962 Slovak pic ushered in Czech New Wave

Time of eclipse: sunbathing in Sixties Bratislava in a film that broke taboos of its day

There’s black-and-white style aplenty in Štefan Uher’s The Sun in a Net, an elliptical look at a youthful boy-girl relationship that intermingles with a whole range of themes left open for the viewer’s interpretation. Heralding the better-known Czech New Wave and rather ignored in the aftermath of that movement, it earned opposition from the authorities in its time, but impresses today for its filmic rather than social edginess.

It’s a story of young lovers and their families: Fayolo (Marián Bielik) and Bela (Jana Beláková) meet on the roof of their Bratislava apartment block, both to sunbathe and wait for a solar eclipse (duly interpreted in a negative light by the Communists). Light itself is an element that features symbolically in a film that touches on sight and blindness: Bela’s mother is blind, playing hauntingly with overtones of Bergman (actress Eliška Nosáľová, pictured below right), while the main younger characters are discovering carefree life more à-la Truffaut.

When Fayolo volunteers for the summer harvest camp, not least to redeem his father’s status with the authorities, he enters a new relationship, as does Bela back in the city. You might expect the harvesting scenes to have their own Socialist Realist attractions, but actually the collective farm is run down (a depiction that earned official disapproval), and the main interest to be found is in the faces of the locals, duly recorded by Fayolo, who’s an obsessive photographer with a particular fascination with hands.

Uher, who was allowed to go on making films in the period of normalisation that followed 1968, began in documentaries, but out of this apparently simple story from writer Alfonz Bednár, he weaved a film of real nuance and complexity. Cinematography by Stanislav Szomolányi is as inventive as anything being shot in Europe at the time, while Rudolf Pavlichek’s sound score impresses even more. This Second Run release comes in a superbly crisp restored version, with an extra interview with, appropriately, Peter Strickland of Berberian Sound Studio fame.

It earned opposition from the authorities in its time, but impresses today for its filmic rather than social edginess


Editor Rating: 
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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