For Reel

Sirius (1974)
June 25, 2011, 11:01 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Frantisek Vlácil

Due to the political climate of the period, Frantisek Vlácil was restricted from making feature length films throughout much of the 1970s. In response, he completed a number of short films and, in the case of Sirius, a film intended for a younger audience. Frantisek, the young protagonist, has deified his Alsatian by naming him Sirius after the “Dog Star”, the brightest star visible from Earth. The metaphor serves as a means to articulate resurrection, suggesting that, while the star will disappear below the horizon in a few thousand years, it will one day return. Setting the picture during the Holocaust also reveals that this is more than a simple allegory about grief – one might refer to Sirius as a stand-in for the casualties of war, whose memory will not be lost in time. Frantisek’s father is captured by the Germans and, when the occupiers begin to round up the village dogs in order to train them as part of the Nazi patrol teams, Frantisek boards Sirius out of their sight. This material is hardly what one would consider to be child-friendly – despite the charming, almost telepathic connection that Frantisek has with his dog – but what makes the film so successful is Vlácil’s ability to use a childlike subjectivity in dealing with war. Frantisek is awe-struck and confused by his surroundings, only having a vague awareness about what is transpiring around him.

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