For Reel

Valley of the Bees (1968)
June 8, 2011, 8:38 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Frantisek Vlácil

Frantisek Vlácil’s second medieval period peace, filmed back-to-back with his oft-praised Marketa Lazarová, distances itself from Vlácil’s earlier efforts with an episodic, sprawling narrative. Rather than capturing a modestly scaled, intimate relationship between two people within a confined space of time, Valley of the Bees concerns the growth of Ondrej, a young Teutonic Knight, who, having been brutally assaulted by his father early in life, has developed his own violent tendencies. This violence is contrasted heavily with the religious zealotry that we see throughout the film – in prayer, two knights lay naked on a beach and allow the tide to torture their bodies, and later Ondrej’s step-mother is seen flagellating herself. With a reoccurring motif of dogs, who seem to represent the most carnal, uncivil desires of man, Vlácil criticizes religious doctrine as being a thinly-veiled disguise that distances us from animals only on the uppermost surface level.

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