Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Towards A Personal Canon: Eastern Europe

Eastern Europe is a figment of my mind. In this cobwebbed,  nostalgia-laden mind, it oddly consists of Yugoslavia, Poland, Hungary,  Czechoslovakia, Romania and Bulgaria.
This is rather arbitrary -- except for the fact that these countries once formed satellites to the Soviet Union, a buffer zone against the threat of the West.

Today, balkanization and democratization have sliced and diced Eastern Europe. Yugoslavia is gone and has become five nations. Czechoslovakia has split into halves.

But I still hark back, perversely if nostalgically, to those glorious times when they operated as singular countries, when they were ruled by the strange strictures -- the freeze and thaw -- of socialism.

Today, I still hark back to the Czech New Wave. The Czechs, like Jiri Menzel and Milos Forman, as much as the Slovaks, like Dusan Hanak and Juraj Jakubisko.



I still hark back to the Yugoslavian Black Wave in the mid-1960s. Aleksandr Petrovic, Zivojin Pavlovic, and Dusan Makavejev presided, but there were quite a few equally capable cineastes lurking in the eclipse.

I still think about the early alumni of the National Film School in Lodz -- Krzysztof Zanussi, Roman Polanski, Jerzy Skolimowski, and Andrzej Wajda, the best-known names in Polish cinema graduating and making films in quick succession.

Hungary remains largely terra incognita beyond what Miklos Jancso, Marta Meszaros, Istvan Szabo and a few select filmmakers have had to offer. Istvan Gaal, Pal Sandor, Zoltan Fabri have only begun to be rediscovered and reassessed by wider audiences, within and without Hungary.

Much remains unaccounted for and undocumented for the moment. National archives have not been thoroughly exhausted. And these are bountiful times for some countries like Romania, hitting its stride with the emergence of such talents as Cristi Puiu and Cristian Mungiu. There is much to discover -- and this list is liable to reflect more informed and more comprehensive choices, a wider and more inclusive geography.

Meanwhile here is one version of Eastern Europe that deserves to be seen. This list is by no means exhaustive, but it is a fairly useful one with which to start an exploration of national cinemas that have been, by virtue of ideological association, unjustly dismissed and overlooked. 

The list, in no particular order:

Narcissus and Psyche (Gabor Body, 1980)
Satantango (Bela Tarr, 1994)
Dekalog (Krzysztof Kieslowski, 1989)
The Cassandra Cat (Vojtech Jasny, 1963)
Young and Healthy as A Rose (Jovan Jovanovic, 1971)
When Father Was Away on Business (Emir Kusturica, 1985)
The Joke (Jaromil Jires, 1969)
Daisies (Vera Chytilova, 1966)
Man of Marble (Andrzej Wajda, 1977)
The Sun in A Net (Stefan Uher, 1962)

Build A House Plant A Tree (Juraj Jakubisko, 1980)
Capricious Summer (Jiri Menzel, 1968)
The Cremator (Juraj Herz, 1968)
Celebration in the Botanical Garden (Elo Havetta, 1969)
Wild Lilies (Elo Havetta, 1972)
Fruit of Paradise (Vera Chytilova, 1970)
Ashes and Diamonds (Andrzej Wajda, 1958)
Valerie and Her Week of Wonders (Jaromil Jires, 1970)
Kanal (Andrzej Wajda, 1957)
Damnation (Bela Tarr, 1988)

Courage for Every Day (Evald Schorm, 1964)
Larks on A String (Jiri Menzel, 1969)
The Dog Who Loved Trains (Goran Paskaljevic, 1977)
Werkcmeister Harmonies (Bela Tarr, 2000)
Do You Remember Dolly Bell? (Emir Kusturica, 1981)
A Generation (Andrzej Wajda, 1955)
Valley of the Bees (Frantisek Vlacil, 1968)
The Shop on Main Street (Jan Kadar/Elmar Klos, 1965)
Almanac of Fall (Bela Tarr, 1985)
Loves of a Blonde (Milos Forman, 1965)
Camera Buff (Krzysztof Kieslowski, 1979)

Mother Joan of the Angels (Jerzy Kawalerowicz, 1961)
The Ear (Karel Kachyna, 1970)
Interrogation (Ryszard Bugajski, 1982)
Time of the Gypsies (Emir Kusturica, 1988)
Firemen's Ball (Milos Forman, 1967)
White Dove (Frantisek Vlacil, 1960)
Dancing in the Rain (Bostjan Hladnik, 1961)
The Oak (Lucian Pintilie, 1992)
Tri (Aleksander Petrovic, 1965)
When I'm Dead and White (Zivojin Pavlovic, 1967)

W.R. Mysteries of the Organism (Dusan Makavejev, 1971)
Love Affair, or the Case of the Missing (Dusan Makavejev, 1967)
Man is Not A Bird (Dusan Makavejev, 1965)
Sweet Movie (Dusan Makaevejev, 1974)
A Short Film About Killing (Krzysztof Kieslowski, 1988)
A Short Film About Love (Krzysztof Kieslowski, 1988)
Curriculum Vitae (Krzysztof Kieslowski, 1975)
Closely Watched Trains (Jiri Menzel, 1966)
Reconstruction (Lucian Pintilie, 1968)
Adoption (Marta Meszaros, 1975)

The Medusa Raft (Karpo Acimovic-Godina, 1980)
The Outsider (Bela Tarr,1981)
Szerelem (Karoly Makk, 1971)
Another Way (Karoly Makk, 1982)
My Sweet Little Village (Jiri Menzel, 1985)
Diamonds of the Night (Jan Nemec, 1964)
Intimate Lighting (Ivan Passer, 1966)
Knife in the Water (Roman Polanski, 1962)
Round-Up (Miklos Jancso, 1966)
Winter Wind (Miklos Jancso, 1969)

How I Was Systematically Destroyed By Idiots (Slobodan Sijan, 1983)
The Red and the White (Miklos Jancso, 1967)
Red Psalm (Miklos Jancso, 1972)
My Way Home (Miklos Jancso, 1965)
It Rains in My Village (Aleksander Petrovic, 1968)
Montenegro (Dusan Makavejev, 1981)
Landscape After Battle (Andrzej Wajda, 1970)
Everything for Sale (Andrzej Wajda, 1969)
Father (Istvan Szabo, 1966)
The Hand (Jiri Trnka, 1965)

Eroica (Andrzej Munk, 1958)
A Distant Journey (Alfred Radok, 1950)
I EVen Met Happy Gyspies (Aleksander Petrovic, 1967)
Family Nest (Bela Tarr, 1979)
The Scar (Krzysztof Kieslowski, 1976)
Year of the Quiet Sun (Krzysztof Zanussi, 1984)
Silence and Cry (Miklos Jancso, 1967)
And Give My Love to The Swallows (Jaromil Jires, 1972)
Cabaret Balkan (Goran Pasklajevic, 1998)
Alice (Jan Svankmajer, 1988)

Man of Iron (Andrzej Wajda, 1981)
Saragossa Manuscript (Wojciech Has, 1965)
Oil Lamps (Juraj Herz, 1971)
Sitting on A Branch, Enjoying Myself (Juraj Jakubisko, 1989)
Marathon Family (Slobodan Sijan, 1982)
Possession (Andrzej Zulawski,1981)
Little Otik (Jan Svankmajer, 2000)
Third Part of the Night (Andrzej Zulawski, 1971)
Catsplay (Karoly Makk, 1972)
The Cow (Karel Kachyna, 1994)

Black Cat, White Cat (Emir Kusturica, 1998)
Ecce Homo Homolka (Jaroslav Papousek, 1969)
Cantata (Miklos Jancso, 1963)
Witches' Hammer (Otakar Vavra, 1970)
The Party and the Guests (Jan Nemec, 1966)
Who is Singing Over There? (Slobodan Sijan,1980)
The Pier (Wojciech Solazrz, 1969)
Black Peter (Milos Forman, 1964)
Hogo Fogo Homolka (Jaroslav Papousek, 1970)
Marketa Lazarova (Frantisek Vlacil, 1967)

The Current (Istvan Gaal,1963)
Sweet Anna (Zoltan Fabri, 1958)
The Hour-Glass Sanatorium (Wojciech Has, 1973)
Walkover (Jerzy Skolimowski, 1965)
322 (Dusan Hanak, 1969)
Illumination (Krzysztof Zanussi, 1973)
Structure of Crystal (Krzysztof Zanussi, 1969)
The Man from London (Bela Tarr, 2007)
The Prefab People (Bela Tarr, 1982)
Pearls of the Deep (Chytilova/Jires/Menzel/Nemec/Schorm, 1966)

Birds, Orphans, Fool (Juraj Jakubisko, 1969)
Shadows of a Hot Summer (Frantisek Vlacil, 1978)
The Good Soldier Sveijk (Karol Stekly, 1957)
Bolshe Vita (Ibolya Fekete, 1996)
Our Car (Frantisek Cap, 1962)
Lemonade Joe (Oldrich Lipsky, 1964)
Seclusion Near A Forest (Jiri Menzel, 1976)
Diary for My Children (Marta Meszaros, 1984)
Szindbad (Zoltan Huszarik,1971)
Four Nights with Anna (Jerzy Skolimowski, 2008)

The Unknown Soldier's Patent Leather Shoes (Rangel Vulchanov, 1979)
Merry-Go-Round (Zoltan Fabri, 1956)
The Witness (Peter Bacso, 1969)
The Death of Mr. Lazarescu (Cristi Puiu, 2005)
Tales from the Golden Age (Cristian Mungiu et al, 2009)
Filantropica (Nae Caranfil, 2002)
The Goat Horn (Metodi Andonov, 1972)
Michael The Brave (Sergiu Nicolaescu, 1970)
Police, Adjective(Corneliu Porumboiu, 2009)
4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days (Cristian Mungiu, 2007)

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