Set in the 1950's, this grim and gritty tale takes place in a Kladno scrapyard
where a group of female defectors, now prisoners-of-the-state work, sorting through the
metal scraps across the yard from a group of male "political" prisoners.
As their dreary existence grinds by, the men and women form tenuous relationships across
the piles of junk, under the sometimes averted eyes of the guards. The guards even help
some of the prisoners get together, revealing a relationship between prisoners and guards
that is much more "simpatico" than we might expect. Both guards and
prisoners are portrayed as the victims of an oppressive State. Told with much humor,
the grim reality of their experiences is nonetheless depressing.
We had the feeling that much of the humor was lost in the translation, not only
in the language translation, but in the context of time. The phrase "You had to
be there," probably applies here, but more accurately, "You had to be
there......then." Banned in the Soviet Union, the film was finally premiered at
the Berlin Film Festival in 1990, well after the fall of the communist government.
It won a FIPRESCI Award (Honorable Mention) from the Berlin International Film Festival
(1990) and director, Jiri Menzel was awarded the Golden Berlin Bear.
Runtime: 96 minutes
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