> Volume 6 > Number 27


Ondrej Trojan

Anna Geislerová
György Cserhalmi
Jaroslava Adamová
Miroslav Donutil
Jaroslav Dusek
Iva Bittová
Tomás Zatecka

Release: 27 Aug. 04



The small town of Zelary in the mountains of Czechoslovakia is seemingly untouched by outside forces when Eliska (Geislerova) arrives there. Her resistance group has been caught by the Nazis, and she’s able to hitch a place with a man whose life she saved when he returns to Zelary. There, she’ll take the name Hana and become the dutiful wife to this man, Joza (Cserhalmi). The town welcomes her like one of their own.

This story of survival may involve the majority of Zelary’s 150-minute screen time, but only at the end does any of it really have an impact. The town, so far from major roads that the Nazis never want to go out of their way to check it, has a collection of odd characters and contrived scenarios that fail to really involve the audience. But when the Partisans, not the Nazis, arrive in the third act, the film suddenly has something to say, and director Ondrej Trojan knows how to say it. Establishing that both sides of this war -- Nazi and Partisan -- are enemies of Zelary, their modernization destructive of its thin fibers of old fashioned collectivism, Trojan comments with a fine regard for his setting and its plight. The only problem is that it takes nearly two hours to get to this section of the film and, unless you’re willing to pay $10 for a nice nap, it’s a tough pill to swallow until you get to the salvation

©2004, David Perry,, 2 July 2004