Off the Blacklist: The Films of Jan Němec


“Jan Němec’s first three features—made in a creative flurry between 1964 and 1967—are pared-down, taut, fatless movies. Taken together, they can be seen as a central source text for the Czech New Wave, of which Němec is one of the founding fathers. The films have, among other things, the same brand of slapdash anarchism as Věra Chytilová’s Daisies; the same clipped, elliptical approach to storytelling as František Vláčil’s The White Dove; and—at least in the case of Martyrs of Love—the same sensitivity to the pangs and pitfalls of first-blush romance as Jiří Menzel’s Closely Watched Trains. But where his New Wave colleagues (Vláčil and Chytilová in particular) tended to aspire to a kind of filmed poetry, in which each image feels as if it’s always wrestling out of its narrative context, Němec seems most at home making the cinematic equivalent of novellas. The longest of these features runs for 71 minutes. Two mostly forgo character names and spoken dialogue. All three take place in worlds that feel closed-off, decontextualized, and hyper-pressurized. In Němec’s cinema, abstract questions—What makes us free? What, if anything, serves as a stable basis for political authority? What makes us unfree: ourselves or others?—are borne concretely out in the movement of bodies: at some moments penned chafingly in, at others set in nervous, unstable motion.  …”
Film Comment
W – Jan Němec
NY Times: Jan Nemec, Czech Filmmaker Known for Works of ‘Dream Realism,’ Dies at 79
Independent of Reality: The Films of Jan Němec
Enfant Terrible of the Czech New Wave
Invitation to the Party: Jan Nemec’s 1966 Satire of Czech Communism
YouTube: Oratorio for Prague, A REPORT ON THE PARTY AND GUESTS, Diamonds of the Night (1964)

About 1960s: Days of Rage

Bill Davis - 1960s: Days of Rage
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