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The Elementary School
(Obecna Skola)
Czechoslovakia - 1991
Directed by Jan Sverak


Coming-of-age story set in 1945.  The post-war climate is illustrated in a small Czechoslovakian village.  Eda and Tonda are two young boys whose mischievous antics involving rocketry (from salvaged unexploded shells found lying around) send their meek teacher to an asylum.  She is replaced by a larger-than-life figure who purports himself to have been a hero of the resistance during the war(a fact most that most of us would question).  He uses his position of authority as a pulpit from which to expound on his beliefs and drives home the point for truth and honor.  The heretofore undisciplined boys hang on his every word and are changed by him.  The paradox is that while the teacher leads the boys on a path to glory, he is himself consumed with lust, for women and glory.  The principal character, young Eda, learns to separate the wheat from the chaff as he discovers the teachers faults, yet retains the lessons of honor and truth. 

An interesting glimpse into the reality of a war-ravaged land, where children run unsupervised through former minefields and battlegrounds, and the adults apparently find their post-war life unbearably tame.

The Elementary School was nominated for an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film-Czechoslovakia (1992).

 

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