13 September 2016 | treywillwest
This film, one of the most celebrated of the Czech New Wave, is often commended as a bravely anti-communist work. I do not agree with that assessment.
This film was produced by a state-run, Party controlled studio. It attracted a great audience to the state-run cinemas of the time. While it certainly details the injustices and abuses of the Stalinist era in the Eastern Bloc countries of the late '40s and early '50s, its most sympathetically portrayed character is not the once-purged-now- successful revenge-bent scientist at the center of the narrative. Rather, the most impressive character we see is the main character's rival and target: a once proud idealist who danced seductively to the traditionalist folk-hymns embraced during the enactment of Czeck socialism, and who partook in the Stalinist committees popular at the time, he now teaches Marxism to the sex-and-drugs celebrating children of the late '60s and embraces their cultural revolution.
The cynical "protagonist" knows only anger over past wrongs, which is to say resentment. The commie true-believer moves forward with history and its evolving paradigms of love and joy. I would define this film as a Nietzschean, rather than as an anti-Marxist (or Marxist) work.