Udoli Vcel

Frantisek Vlácil

[La valle delle api] Int. tit.: Valley of the Bees. Sog.: Vladimír Körner. Scen.: Vladimír Körner, František Vláčil. F.: František Uldrich. M.: Miroslav Hájek. Scgf.: Jindřich Goetz. Mus.: Zdeněk Liška. Su.: František Fabián. Int.: Petr Čepek (Ondřej di Vlkov), Jan Kačer (Armin von Heide), Věra Galatíková (Lenora), Michal Kožuch (FatherBlasius), Zdeněk Kryzánek (il padre di Ondřej), Josef Somr (Rotgier), Jana Hlaváčková (the blind girl), Jana Hájková (young Lenora), Zdeněk Sedláček (Ondřej ragazzo). Prod.: Filmové studio Barrandov. Pri. pro.: 17 maggio 1968. 35mm. D.: 97’. Col.


T. it.: Italian title. T. int.: International title. T. alt.: Alternative title. Sog.: Story. Scen.: Screenplay. F.: Cinematography. M.: Editing. Scgf.: Set Design. Mus.: Music. Int.: Cast. Prod.: Production Company. L.: Length. D.: Running Time. f/s: Frames per second. Bn.: Black e White. Col.: Color. Da: Print source

Film Notes

František Vlácˇil, director of Valley of the Bees, might be considered (and usually is) a phenomenon in the context of Czechoslovak cinema of the 1960s. Being older that the third generation of FAMU (the Film and TV School of the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague) and making films that were distinctly different from anything else, he did not really belong to the so-called Czechoslovak New Wave. His cinematic language is more closely aligned with that of static image and nonrealistic sound, rather than direct testimony on everyday and the poetry of light and movement. His chef-d’oeuvre Marketa Lazarová is long but not epic, crude but not realistic, employing both Christian and pagan symbolism while still remaining rather worldly. Valley of the Bees bears many similarities, probably but not exclusively because it was developed in the same period, as an offset of its more spectacular predecessor. The film presents 1960s black and white photography at its best. Though shot in anamorphic widescreen, the film does not avoid central or otherwise extreme compositions. Shots where characters stare directly into camera are not rare. Dim interior shots alternate with overlit exteriors. Long shots are followed by extreme details. And sometimes the images become almost abstract, as they trace the structures and surfaces of objects and human body. All of these, as well as rather non-naturalistic sound design, quite surprisingly add to the perceived realism of the film as a whole. Even today it surprises with its unusually modern concept of historical genre. Just like Vlácˇil’s Marketa Lazarová, the film is an adaptation of a novel. Valley of the Bees was written by Vladimír Körner and adapted for the screen by the author himself, in cooperation with Vlácˇil. While Marketa Lazarová took Vlacˇil years to develop and finish, Valley of the Bees was, according to the director himself, quite easy to put together. And although the film will probably always stay in the shadow of its longer and more monumental predecessor, it certainly can be considered one of the best films of the Czechoslovak 1960s, if not Czech cinema in general.

Anna Batistová