Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The Snowdrop Festival

Slavnosti sněženek; comedy, Czech Republic, 1984; D: Jiří Menzel, S: Rudolf Hrusínský, Jaromír Hanzlík, Josef Somr, Petr Cepek

Episodic misadventures of people living in an isolated Czech holiday village. One man is collecting anything that is a bargain, including only shoes for the left leg (cheaper than buying them in a pair) while another enjoys watching TV with a goat on his couch. When hunters of one association shoot a boar in a school, an argument explodes because the school lies on the territory of another association of hunters. The school teacher, however, manages to reach a compromise: divide the boar meat between the two hunter camps. However, during dinner, the hunters again start a quarrel.

"The Snowdrop Festival" is one of the 'lesser' comedies by famed Czech director Jiri Menzel, but still has enough charm and successful 'Czech' humor to offer a positive viewing experience. As in several of his films, even "Snowdrop" has troubles connecting all those episodic collages of people in a holiday village into a cohesive narrative - giving a plot summary is practically impossible - which in the end causes a rather chaotic feeling, depending on the viewers' inclinations towards those kind of films. The best episode is by far the one that almost advanced into the main plot, the one involving hunters chasing after a boar. At first, it is charming: a hunter shoots, and the boar lies on the floor - but then suddenly stands up again (obviously it just crouched from the sound of gunfire, not because it was hit), runs pass by two shocked women and starts running on the road. Even the sight where the boar enters the school is something to behold, but the movie turns bitter and repulsive when the hunters shoot it there, instead of conjuring up a better solution to the chase. Menzel starts to lose a tight grip of the storyline towards the overstretched ending, though fine actors, among them Rudolf Hrusinsky, and a wide range of wacky jokes (a woman gives a car key to a dog, who eats it (!), the dialogue: "I am for the potato! Potato for the pig, pig for me"...) manage to sustain a good grade.


No comments: