The Czech Connection


Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

The Czech Connection
"Even Nemec's darkest works contain a certain mordant humour and here he plays up the absurdity."

This made-for-TV oddity may not be Jan Nemec's finest hour but it's worth a look for the connections it has to his earlier and later work. Having become a thorn in the side of the Czechoslovakian government in the late 60s, when his sharp political satire The Party And The Guests was "banned forever" and he became an accidental documenter of the Soviet occupation in Oratorio For Prague, he was forbidden from filmmaking and finally exiled in 1974.

A year later, The Czech Connection takes a side-swipe at his homeland, as the film charts his own death, framing it as an elaborate conspiracy. Even Nemec's darkest works contain a certain mordant humour and here he plays up the absurdity. His body is seen in a variety of poses - hanging out of a car or being dragged down a hallway - as intercut footage suggests a life of excess.

More trapped in its time than most of his work, possibly due to the jaunty distorted versions of American film soundtracks, including Goldfinger and The Godfather, that accompany the images, it still offers some impressive moments. Chief among them is the intercutting of an autopsy with religious iconography, as the director forges a surreal connection between the halos of hair on statues and paintings and a bloodied brain in a dish. The autopsy itself, along with other snippets of footage from the film, would go on to feature in his quasi-autobiographical Late Night Talks With Mother some 25 years later.

The film is also notable for the way, as in many Nemec films, he plays with audio, not just in terms of the music but in the way it forges connections between sounds, such as gunshots early in the film, which are later echoed by the rapid clack of a typewriter (another motif that crops up in his other films). More for completists than casual viewers but you can never accuse Nemec of being dull.

The Czech Connection will screen with Martyrs Of Love as part of the Jan Nemec retrospective at the Made In Prague festival at Regent Cinema on Saturday, November 11 at 4.30pm

Reviewed on: 08 Nov 2017
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Short experimental film conceived by the director as a metaphor for his own death.

Director: Jan Němec

Writer: Jan Němec

Starring: Gene Moskowitz

Year: 1975

Runtime: 36 minutes

Country: West Germany


Made In Prague 2017

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