Valley of the Bees | Chicago Reader

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97 minutes

In this 1967 Czech film a young monk in 13th-century Bohemia decides to return home to claim his family's estate, and he's pursued by a zealous colleague who considers the human race so sinful that its extinction might be desirable. Director Frantisek Vlacil, shooting in black-and-white 'Scope, creates broad, multicharacter compositions appropriate to the historical drama, and his implicit critique of societal institutions becomes evident when oppressive images of the monastery dominate a young monk's ordination ceremony. For the most part, however, Vlacil's visual style is too bland to convey an era when being devoured by hounds was considered an appropriate punishment, and the score's modern tonalities feel inappropriate. In Czech with subtitles.

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