Shadows of a Hot Summer | Chicago Reader

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Rated NR · 90 minutes · 1978

Shot in a standard aspect ratio, this 1978 Czech feature by the highly regarded Frantisek Vlacil isn't as ravishing as his 60s widescreen epics (Marketa Lazarova, The Valley of the Bees), but it's still a masterpiece of composition. The film takes place in the uncertain period following World War II, with the depopulated settings rendered especially forbidding by Vlacil's low-angle camerawork. (Few directors have derived as much power from the height of the film frame, which means you should see this on a big screen if you see it at all.) The story concerns a farming family held hostage by a gang of soldiers that's taken to looting the countryside after the war. The resulting character dynamic may be familiar from a number of films (The Desperate Hours, He Ran All the Way), yet Vlacil's tone is eerily calm, as though the story were playing out in purgatory. In Czech with subtitles.
Director: Frantisek Vlacil
Writer: Jiri Krizan
Cast: Juraj Kukura, Marta Vancurova, Gustav Valach, Karel Chromik, Zdenek Kutil, Jiri Bartoska, Augustin Kuban and Gustav Opocensky

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