Section: Spotlight: Ukraine



Martin Frič
Czechoslovakia (Slovakia), 1946, 85 Min

Though the mountain landscapes might be magnificent, the life of the villagers is hard and the landowners are unjust. Shepherd Ondrej rebels against the practice of forced labour and ends up leaving his family to earn money in distant America in this enthralling social drama about a time when the Slovaks still resided in the Kingdom of Hungary.

“Varúj!” (Warning!) The shepherds call out to each other when a bear again threatens their herd. Yet that's not the only evil Ondrej Muranica has to struggle with. The arbitrariness of the Hungarian landowners and the burden of high taxes are just as bad. Like many Slovaks at the beginning of the 20th century he is eager to try his luck in the States. His best friend, Mišo, joins him, and the two find work in a mine until, after a momentous accident, Ondrej is reported as missing.

In the history of Slovak cinema this film has special significance: Since the production of “Jánošik” in 1921 it is considered to be the first genuinely Slovak feature film. In a surprising manner it combines scenes of folk-like dance and song and fascinating images of the beauty of nature with modern, documentary-like scenes of a struggle for survival in industrial society.

Martin Frič -

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