Česká centra, Czech Centres

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Nov 8, 2011 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM

The Ear

Film Club - Films from the Safe. Free admission.

The Ear (Ucho), directed by Karel Kachyna, 91 min

Part of the ROADS TO FREEDOM - Czech Alternative Culture before November 1989

This highly-charged political satire from Czechoslovakia was banned for 20 years.

Ludvik, a Communist official, arrives back home with his wife after spending the evening at a government function where he finds out that several of his colleagues have been 'relieved' of their responsibilities. Once he is inside he discovers that his house is bugged and that 'The Ear' of the government has been listening to him. When the electricity goes in his house and he sees a group of shady men waiting outside his house, he fears that he is the next one to go...

It is the chronicle of a miserable marriage between a provincial bureaucrat and the boozy daughter of a pub-owner who find trouble when they learn through the grapevine that one of the husband's superior's has been arrested. Now the husband fears that a major purge is in the offing. Their fears are not allayed by the fact that their house keys have disappeared, nor can they shake the feeling that someone is watching them. Things don't get any better when they finally get into the house and find signs that someone has been in there.

In 1970, director Karel Kachyna, created a unique film which shows us a study of fear among communist officials in the 50's. One of high ranked officials is paranoid as his immediate superior is said to be in a bad position and is going to be removed, or in Orwell's terms: vaporized. So the main hero is very nervous, and he's sure his house is full of wiretaps. The main part of the film describes the tension between the man and his wife, turning from love to hate and back.

The story is very impressive - and due to the situation in early 70's (the country was occupied by Soviets in 1968) it wasn't shown to public until the communist regime broke down. Everyone who had something to do with this film had big troubles later and had to 'prove' his/her loyalty to the regime. All in all, a film that is definitely worth seeing, probably the best psychological thriller in Czech cinematography and a must for everyone interested in the inner functions of every totalitarian society.

Karel Kachyna
The film director Karel Kachyna was part of the Czech wave of liberal filmmakers in the 1960s which included Milos Forman and Jiri Menzel. His career spanned over five decades.

Distinguished Czechoslovakian filmmaker Karel Kachyna is best known for his psychological dramas that take piercing looks into the lives of children and young teens. Born in Vyskov, Czechoslovakia, Kachyna was among the first to graduate from Prague's film school FAMU, where he initially studied cinematography. During the early '50s, Kachyna collaborated on short and feature-length documentaries with former classmate Vojtech Jasný. The two collaborated on their fictional feature-film debut Dnes Vecer Vsechno Skonci/Everything Ends Tonight in 1954, but then went their separate ways. In 1956, Kachyna made his first solo film but did not make much impact until the early '60s, when he began collaborating with scenarist  Jan Prochazka. Together the two made films that strained the boundaries of government-imposed strictures and subtly criticized the Communist Party. Favorite themes include war, the revolution, and psychological analysis of certain types of behavior. Kachyna and Prochazka's most famous films include Nadeje/Hope (1963), At Zije Republika/Long Live the Republic (1965), Kocar do Vidne/Coach to Vienna (1966), and Noc Nevesty/Night of the Bride (1967). In the late '60s, Prochazka was appointed head of the Writer's Union. Shortly following the Russian invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1969, two Kachyna and Prochazka collaborations, Smesny Pan/Funny Little Man and Ucho/The Ear (both 1969), were banned. After that, Kachyna made one last Prochazka-scripted film, an adaptation of Alan Marshall's {-I'm Jumping Over Puddles Again} (1970), but another writer received screen credit. Prochazka died in 1971, and though Kachyna continued to make films, he never achieved the same prominence. In addition to working in feature films, Kachyna also directs television productions.

First-come, First-served.


321 East 73rd Street
NY 10021 New York
United States


Nov 8, 2011 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM


Czech Centre

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