Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Black Peter

Černý Petr; comedy, Czech Republic, 1964; D: Miloš Forman, S: Ladislav Jakim, Pavla Martinkova, Jan Vostrcil

After finishing school, youngster Petr does not know what he wants to do with his life. He finds a job as an observer and informal security guard against shoplifters in a store, but when he thinks a man stole something, Petr follows him, but is to indecisive to confront him. Petr brings a girl he likes to a dance hall, but is humiliated there by a teenage bully who borrows some money from him. In the end, Petr loses his job and is scorned by his father and mother at home.

Miloš Forman's feature length debut film is a too simplistic take on confused and indecisive youth trying to make it in the world of grown ups to really engage the viewers, since too many subplots and possibilities were left unexplored or underused. "Black Peter" attracted attention during its premiere for openly tackling the topic of the young generations feeling lost in the world, and using some cinematic techniques from the French new wave, which made it seem modern, yet all this was too meagre, whereas Forman still seemed indecisive himself, just like the title protagonist, evident in the "sudden" ending which seems as if it left a whole story out of the picture. The jokes are sometimes flat, except in the opening act (the prolonged, comical sequence where Petr follows a man suspect of stealing something from the shop, but is too indecisive to tell him anything, and thus just slowly walks behind him for a long time), whereas the storyline is thin, more suitable for a short film, though it is memorable for portraying Petr's overdominating parents who add "salt to the wound" at home by constantly criticizing him, and his dad (Jan Vostrcil) especially stands out, not only for his caprice of constantly holding his hands on his chest while standing.


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