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Friday, November 06, 2009


Holubice (The White Dove), created in 1960 by František Vláčil.

taipeistory: Holubice follows a bird struggling to complete its homeward migration across Europe and the effect that caring for the dove has on an artist, an ailing boy, and a young girl.

taipeistory started to publish Holubice on youTube with English subtitles and Russian dubbing: you can watch his videos starting with Part 1/7. I decided to use here the videos of Dadachvost, as I think the words are not that important in this movie.

butterfinger: the White Dove, by Frantisek Vlacil is a film that deserves to be remembered in spite of its occasional sloppiness. It is about a young boy (Karel Smyczek) and his quest for his freedom and his identity. Here we have a triumph of images rather than of acting or story. The visual metaphors are blunt, but they are beautiful, so who cares? We have a head made of clay that has its face ripped off (the loss of one's identity), we have fingerprints that grow into flowers (the delicacy of identity), we have our main character climbing to the top of the fence surrounding his school, escaping his vicious classmates (the struggle for freedom). The Four Hundred Blows may be wonderful, but its many plot device characters take away the film's riveting effect after many viewings; The White Dove's purely emotional rapture takes the long road around conventional plot clichés and finds a place in a quiet little corner of our hearts.

cranesareflying: another near wordless, somewhat brooding black and white film written and directed by Vlacil with a quirky, experimental style, featuring some really wild imagery by cinematographer Jan Curik, in this children's story that is a cross between THE RED BALLOON and, say, THE DOVE WHISPERER. SPOILERS FOLLOW! The film opens on a hill with hundreds of pigeons released simultaneously in flight, but a white dove remains in its cage; a young girl fondles it affectionately. The films moves simultaneously to another story where a man in a loft apartment, with plenty of unusual artworks, discovers a white dove and delivers him to a young boy in a wheelchair. The bird is alive, but it appears dead, it's not moving, and it needs to be nursed back to health. A flashback shows this same young boy climbing a fence. Other boys are throwing stones at him. The boy reaches for a parachute which is stuck at the very top, and while the boy falls off screen, the parachute gently flies free and lands gracefully on the ground. With the camera facing a glass window, the window is smeared with heavy brush strokes to create a background canvas. What appears to be a sun is drawn, with wild grass and budding flowers. The sun turns into a white dove which is then rolled into a beautiful print, which the man in the loft leaves with the boy. The mood changes to the music of American jazz, as there is a seaside resort. A young bohemian man has his eyes on a young girl who sits alone reading her book, oblivious to his flirtatious advances. This has the feel of Vadim's AND GOD CREATED WOMAN with Bridgitte Bardot. Amazingly, a door opens to the sea and the young girl walks out the door and continues walking on the water. Back to the other story the dove comes to life and the young boy is actually seen walking. The man makes a sculpture of this boy, but the boy refuses to let the man see the dove, so in anger, the man cuts off the face of the sculpture. Back to the driving American jazz, this time the young man hops into a jeep that appears to be driving into the water out to a stretch of sand dune where the girl is reading. He hands her a print of the white dove sent by the artist. She leaps for joy, thrilled at this gift, which cuts to the boy in the loft letting the white dove fly free. There is a slow pan of all the rooftops that can be seen until it returns to the loft where these unusual artworks take on spectacular shapes, ending with the sculpture of the young boy that is now completed. This film has multiple white doves that appear in different places throughout Europe, interspersed with various expressions of art, each represents a kind of positive hope. Here art heals all wounds and the doves help bridge all distances.

st-shot: Czech director Frantiscek Vlacil and cinematographer Jan Curik employ high contrast expressionistic imagery within a realistic framework without sacrificing humanity of character to symbolic necessity where little is said but much implied in this visually stunning allegory filled with imagery worthy of a Bergman-Nykvist collaboration.

A white dove loses its bearings on it's way from Belgium to a Baltic island getting waylaid in Prague. After it injures itself an artist gives it to a child recently injured as well in a play ground accident. The child nurses it back to health and then must decide whether to free it to return to it's owner who pines away for it on the island.

Nearly every frame of the The White Dove is imbued with visual power. Fractured images, taut montage and scenes of surreal beauty such as the release of the pigeons from a coal black hill and a young girl waking from a dream and walking out her back door on water are awe inspiring. Dialog is sparse and motivation sometimes murky but character expression and physical actions more than fill the void to convey emotion. There is no wasted action and nearly every shot can be dissected for meaning or intent in a film that begs or rather demands more than one viewing although I would suggest on the initial watch you just sit back and soar along with the compositions.

Just watch the movie. It's a beauty.



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