The Death of the Beautiful Roebucks | Chicago Reader

The Death of the Beautiful Roebucks

Based on autobiographical stories by Ota Pavel, this lavish and colorful 1986 Czech film by Karel Kachyna follows a Jewish family on the eve of World War II. The ever-optimistic father, a fast-talking “country bumpkin,” appliance salesman, and sometime philanderer, charms society ladies with sales pitches that border on performance art, but the film turns somber as the Nazis arrive. Popper's optimism proves tragic when he refuses a transfer to Brazil; in one scene he cuts a hole in the ice over a pond, and the carp floating like ghosts in the water are an effective metaphor for the family's sudden poverty. But Kachyna's overactive camera and lush imagery are a bit too self-conscious, telegraphing what he wants us to feel rather than letting it emerge naturally. Also known as Death of a Beautiful Dream and Forbidden Dreams.

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