A man is arrested for breaking into a house and playing piano in New Jersey USA in Oct 1938, soon they find out he is Jan Masaryk, the diploma of Czechoslovakia. The US government sends him to a mental hospital. He is in huge pain. As the doctor digs into his past, it reveals why this man is so sad.
Jan is the son of Czechoslovakia’s founder. After his father passed away, he tried his best to protect his country but the president Beneš gives it up at the end. Hitler takes over Prague. Jan did all he can to fight for resist Germany’s invasion but in vain. And he had a really hard time recovering from the mental issue in USA. Finally, when the president come to USA find him and ask him to rebuilt their government, he overcomes what the past had left to him and starts serve the country again.
This is a beautiful and touching movie, cinematography is stunningly well done. Production design is great and believable, and the music is wonderful and powerful. In terms of character and story, it has some shortcoming. Overall, the director shows great ability to visualize a story, shape the performance and maintain the emotion. It is a very mature piece of film.
12 Czech lions go to the movie. It may because this is the first big production about the history of Czech, people have respect and love for their father of the nation, they are excited to see the history on the big screen and to share with the world. There isn’t any other film depicting the early years of the country.
But as an ordinary audience of a film, without any connection to the country of Czech, or knowing the history or background of any of the characters, this film being inspected purely by the standard of motion picture art, is not enough to be a masterpiece, though it does have a lot of great things in there.
The structure of the movie may somewhat confuses part of the audience. It goes from Oct 1938 USA to Mar 1938 England to Nov 1938 USA to May 1938 England to Dec 1938 USA to Sep 1938 England and so on, it switches time for more than ten times. If it maintains the past and present goes parallel and follow the linear time line, it’s understandable. But In the middle of the movie, the past time becomes the time right before the beginning of the film. Then, without audience realizing it, the story goes all present. It may need audience to watch twice to figure out when is that middle point event happen.
Also, there isn’t much obvious indication(Color/ Production design) of each time period, so without a clear history knowledge, people may be confused.
Lack of conflict and not visualizing stake. The conflict doesn’t stand out until almost the end of the film, when the doctor tries to push Jan to go back supporting his country. In the rest of the film, it’s just conversations between Jan and Beneš or different politicians: Czech has to give up/ Czech can’t give up, without a stake that the audience can see. Basically the coverage of this conflict is two people talking about this political decision face to face or on the phone.
Image of Czech people and scenes showing who they are concerning will be helpful to show audience the stake. But it only appear like 5 seconds in the film, when people is expelled from home and called out Shame on you patriot. That is a great one, but if it could be done more, we can better understand the pressure of making that decision and the story would have more stake and conflict. The same thing with showing Jan’s love for his country and people. Image of the people that he is concerning and fighting for will effectively presents his love better.
The use of motif is very successful and powerful in this movie. It begins with fierce ocean waves. And it keeps coming back to the story. The ocean wave looks so dangerous and mighty and it represents the situation of the country’s fate, the tension is expressed in a very intuitive way.
Some of the details in the film is written really well, which delivers the true feelings of people who lost their homes. Like it happened twice in the movie that American people shows ignorance of where Czechoslovakia is and shows carelessness about what happened in Jan’s country. The second time when the woman asks where is
Czechoslovakia? Jan even answers: In Germany. That is a bomb. In just two line, reflects the relationship between the refugees and the world and shows us the wound on the refugees’s heart.
Cinematography is very outstanding. Not only the lighting, the framing is beautifully. It serves the story very well. Many of the images and shots are just shocking and creative. By looking at the frame, even without the performance, you feel the emotion completely. For example: When Beneš is on the phone with Jan asking him: do you know what I’m watching? Sunrise. (This is another motif too) A wide shot from behind Beneš showing the three windows lighting up by the first light of the sun and Beneš is back to us and facing the sun, he then becomes a silhouette. It fully conveys the mood of the character.
© 本文版权归作者 刘不甜