Sirius | Chicago Reader

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New
Rated NR · 88 minutes · 1976

Drama, Family
Czech director Frantisek Vlacil is best known for his medieval epics (The Devil's Trap, Marketa Lazarova, The Valley of the Bees), but this modest 1974 children's film shows he could also excel on a smaller scale. Set in Bohemia and Moravia during the Nazi occupation, it centers on a young boy, his beloved German shepherd, and his father, a railroad worker suspected of having blown up a supply train as part of the resistance. In response, the Nazi commanding officer orders that all suitable canines be rounded up and retrained as attack dogs; this behavioral wrinkle and the boy's intense psychic bond with his pet kept reminding me of Samuel Fuller's White Dog (1982). Also on the program are two Vlacil shorts: the similarly themed Glass Skies (1958), whose young protagonist is obsessed with birds and flight, and Art Nouveau in Prague (1975), a documentary about the city's decorative treasures. Total running time is 88 minutes.

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