Mucedníci lásky (1966)

1 01 2009

Unfortunately and perhaps, inevitably, this is a big step down from Jan Nemec’s wonderful and innovative debut, Diamonds of the Night. In all honesty, the two films have very little in common. Perhaps Nemec was pressured to move away from the aesthetic of his first film. I can’t think up any possible reason why someone would go from the kinetic and visceral poetry of that film and make a rather dubious attempt at sub-Buñuel humor and surrealism. There’s some nice moments here and there, but the whole thing is a bit of a mess. It’s not enough of a mess to be energetic and free-form like Nemec’s first film.

The film is divided into three separate, but thematically connected stories. The first, entitled “Temptation of a Manipulator” focuses on a lonely businessman who dresses like Charles Chaplin. His physical appearance and goofy mannerisms set the tone for the rest of the film. This section actually ended up being my favorite since there was plenty of potential for something great. Nemec reused some of the imagery of his masterpiece early on, particularly with the repetitious shots of girls looking out windows. What little story lies in this segment implies that the main character is lonely and is looking for love amongst all the hectic events of daily life. Unfortunately, this seems to be depicted in a way that is more symbolic than observant. It all feels a bit like Vera Chytilová’s Daisies, which I wasn’t very fond of when I saw it about a year or so ago.

Both Chytilová and Nemec’s work can be called surrealistic, but both films are so in the way least interesting to me. They both seem to take cues from Buñuel’s surrealistic comedies, which is fine by me, but they also seem to exaggerate goofy imagery to a Jodorowsky-level, which isn’t fine by me. Both films are also “crazy” (I suppose) but not like say a Herzog, or Korine film. It is just a goofy and “zany” mess. Many of the gags, if you can call them that, are likely to cause eye-rolls. It sounds a bit close-minded, but maybe I just don’t “get” this.

I must give Nemec credit for something here, though. Unlike Chytilová, his garrish and theatrical surrealism is photographed in a far more interesting way. It’s still the type of thing I hate, but in this case, it does look quite nice. The two other stories only take to the “random” images to another level, completely eliminating any sense of compassion for an actual character. Perhaps one is suppose to approach this film as a hallucogenic collection of uhm, things, but I personally found it rather dull in its forced sense of “artiness.” I’d still say it’s worth seeing, but its also a far cry from Nemec’s best.

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