Jan Hrebejk

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7.0 Pelisky/ Cosy Dens (1999)
7.3 Divided We Fall (2000)
Pupendo (2003)
7.0 Up and Down (2004)
Beauty in Trouble (2006)
Teddy Bear (2007)
I'm All Good (2008)
Shameless (2008)
7.0 Kawasaki's Rose (2009)
6.9 Innocence (2011)
The Holy Quaternity (2012)
Honeymoon (2013)
Zakazane Uvolneni/ Offside (2014)
7.0 The Teacher (2016)

Jan Hrebejk (Czechia, 1967), whose student homework included the shorts Co Vsechno Chcete Vedet o Sexu a Bojite se to Prozit/ What you want to Know about Sex and are Afraid to Experience it (1988) and L.P.1948 (1989), both scripted by his classmate Petr Zelenka as well as the TV movie Nedelejte Nic Pokud k Tomu Nemate Vazný Duvod/ Do Nothing If You Have No Reason (1991), directed the rock and roll comedy Sakali Leta/ Big Beat (1993), scripted by Petr Jarchovský and photographed by Jan Malir like most of the following ones,

He also produced the television series for children Kde Padaji Hvezdy/ Where the Stars Fall (1996).

The TV parody Ceska Soda/ Czech Soda (1998) revealed their biting sense of humor.

hilarious Pelisky/ Cosy Dens (1999), scripted by Petr Jarchovský and photographed by Jan Malir like most of the following ones,

Musime si Pomahat/ Divided We Fall (2000), scripted by Petr Jarchovský and photographed by Jan Malir

The film opens in 1939, when some Jews are afraid of the nazis and one of them tells a friend where the family's jewels are kept. Then it fast forwards to 1943, when a young man is running frantically in the dark empty streets. He is a Jew, running away from nazis. A man sees him and gets scared that the nazis might execute the entire street: so he calls the nazis, ready to sacrifice the Jew in order to save everybody else. Ironically, the nazis don't hear him and leave. Horst, who is married to a German woman and collaborates with the nazis, brings food to a nice childless couple, the invalid Josef and Marie. Josef hates the nazis, while his friend Horst has learned to live with them. They have deported the family of their old Jewish employer, and Josef feels sorry for them, who were decent people. Since Josef had promised to save the family's jewels, he enters the villa at night. He finds David, the son of the business man, who has escaped the concentration camp and is hiding there (the same young man who was running in the street). Josef and Marie hide him in their apartment, but then realize that "they have decided for the entire street", meaning that collective punishment will befall on them if they are caught. Horst makes an unannounced visit, bringing presents as usual. He is trying to convince Josef to join the German collaborators who help confiscating property from dispossessed Jews. Horst is becoming more obnoxious and pretentious as he gets more powerful. Marie is ambivalent about their secret: on one hand she never misses an opportunity to blame her husband for bringing in the Jew, but on the other hand she is merciful and sympathetic with the poor kid locked in the closet day and night. She suggests that Josef accepts Horst's job offer, so as to get more protection and deflect possible suspicions. Josef accepts, and is considered a collaborator by the neighbors, while Marie spends the days learning French from David, and getting more and more tender towards him, as if she, the childless mother, had finally found her baby to nurse and protect. Horst's visits become more frequent, and one evening a farce takes place: Marie fakes a sickness and hides David in her bed, and Horst tries to romance her grabbing a hand that is actually David's; Josef saves both by singing and dancing the circus music. Unbeknownst to them, the neighbor, Franta, spits against them, disgusted by their partying with the nazis (he is the same man who was ready to turn in David in the street). While Josef is at the hospital having his sperm tested, Horst takes Marie for a ride and a picnic. Then he tries to rape her, but she fights him. In the meantime, Josef gets the response: he can't have children. Josef tries to explains to his acquaitances that he is not a real collaborator, but German officers salute him in the street. Humiliated, Horst takes revenge on Marie by forcing them to provide lodging for a nazi officer. Marie refuses on the ground that she is pregnant. But now she has to get pregnant, and Josef proposes that David do it. Marie and David have sex (and don't seem too sorry about it) in the bedroom while Josef gets drunk in the living room. Needless to say, Horst rings the bell just at that time. The sexual partners get scared, but Josef calmly confronts Horst and sends him away, then convinces his wife and David to continue their performance. She does get pregnant, and Horst has to apologize to her. The times are changing. As the Germans are beginning to lose, Horst becomes more human. He saves their lives when the Germans search the street house by house. Finally, the Germans are defeated and people dance in the streets. The crowds attack the collaborators. Right then Marie has to give birth. Josef runs outside looking for a doctor to help. But everywhere is chaos. He finally finds the new commander: his old neighbor Franta. But Franta remembers him as a collaborator and orders his arrest. Josef protests his innocence and invites them to check in person at his house, that he risked his life to protect a Jew. They allow him to pick his doctor. In the jails, Josef does not see his doctor bus finds Horst, crouched in a corner. Josef risks his life one more time, this time to save the collaborator who saved his life once: Josef tells the partisans that Horst is a doctor. The partisans escort them to Josef's house, driving through the ruins of the city. In another slapstick-style scene, Horst pretends to be a doctor and helps Marie, who is terrified to see Horst acting as the doctor. Now Josef needs to produce the Jew, but David, scared by the armed men, has run out of the window. The captain of the partisans doesn't believe him and is about to shoot him without a trial, but David finally shows up. Josef can finally prove that he was a hero, not a collaborator. The baby is born. Both David and the neighbor Franta go along with Josef's lie about Horst, and let the partisans believe that he is indeed a doctor, thus saving his life. Days later, Josef walks the baby through the devastated streets of his city, as thousands of people are digging in the ruins (a symbol of hope). The director manages to create a surreal tale and a philosophical apologue out of a historical tragedy. The director increases the suspense and the tension by resorting to cinematic tricks as low-frame shots, fuzzy focus, super-imposition ofimages, expressionistic shading, etc. and comic, slapstick-like scenes accompanied by circus music.

Pupendo (2003), set in the oppressive atmosphere of the 1980s,

Hrebejk and Jarchovský penne a fresco of Czech society in Horem Padem/ Up and Down (2004) that is both pessimistic and comic.

Kraska v Nesnazích/ Beauty in Trouble (2006), photographed as usual by Jan Malir

Medvidek/ Teddy Bear (2007)

U me Dobrý/ I'm All Good (2008), adapted from Petr Sabach's book

Nestyda/ Shameless (2008), adapted from Michal Viewegh's book by Viewegh himself (no Jarchovský), the last film photographed by Malir

Kawasakiho Ruze/ Kawasaki's Rose (2009), scripted by Jarchovsky and photographed by Martin Sacha instead of the usual Malir, about a dissident of the communist era who is unmasked as a collaborator,

The same team made Nevinnost/ Innocence (2011), with a complex plot about a respected pediatrician who is falsely accused of sexual abuse by an underage girl,

Odpad Mesto Smrt/ Garbage the City and Death (2012) is an adaptation of a Rainer Werner Fassbinder script.

Svata Ctverice/ The Holy Quaternity (2012), scripted by Michal Viewegh and shot by Sacha,

Libanky/ Honeymoon (2013), another collaboration with Jarchovsky, photographed by Martin Strba,

Zakazane Uvolneni (2014), with no Jarchovsky and no Malir,

Ucitelka/ The Teacher (2016), scripted again by Jarchovsky,

(Copyright © 2003 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )
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