For the second consecutive year the cinematheque in my city hosts a Czech Film Festival, and the most interesting film I have seen by now is this work co-directed by and describing an event that took place more than 40 years ago in what was then Czechoslovak Socialist Republic. It was by all criteria a shocking event, especially for the ‘quiet’ and ‘normalized’ Czechoslovakia of the 1970s. Today we would immediately suspect a terror attack, but the roots of crime of the girl who one day drove her truck in a bus station in Prague killing eight people have their origins not in ideology but in a deep personal trauma and in the complete failure of a system that could not perform basic obligations to its citizens, and even less knew how to tolerate differences and deal with the individuals in trouble.

 

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2953762/

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2953762/

 

Olga Hepnarova grew up in a mid-class normative family, but was by all criteria a non-normative young woman – rebel, non-communicative, isolated by her school and work colleagues, a lesbian in a society that did not tolerate homosexuality. I found the acting performance of to be superb, she is living within her character, the desperation and mute cry for help of Olga crosses the screen. Can her deeds be pardoned? Hardly so, as eight innocent people lost their lives in an act of violence that she considered to be a revenge on the system. Is the environment she lived in responsible also for her situation? So it seems, as she seems to be permanently looking for something or somebody to cling on, but she finds nothing in the system (doctors, psychologists, companies she worked for) and nobody among her family or the people she meets who can or wants to help. She is described as a schizophrenic, considered herself bullied and persecuted by everybody around, and had a strange detachment between her intelligence and the way she lived, her actions and reality. Only in the last very moment she seems to have realized that that was for real, and of course, that was too late.

 

(video source Strand Releasing)

 

Directors and decided to make this film in the style of the good Czech cinema of the 1960s. This is reflected not only the black-and-white coloring, but also in the approach in describing the daily reality. We are in Czechoslovakia of those times, we see how people lived and the problems they faced, we are faced with the dullness and lack of hope of their lives, but the critic of the system is never explicit . The script is written and the film is made like censorship is still in place. Good story telling, inspired editing, and excellent acting performances make this film interesting, although we know the end (and the Czech viewers know even better the story). It’s not easy to watch as this is a grim story with an unavoidable tragic ending, a spiral of fall and desperation that never provides a ray of hope – but those who are interested in the life of that side of the Iron Curtain during the cold war and in good cinema will be rewarded.