In 1988 director Věra Chytilová delivered a striking generational tragicomedy on the 30-somethings of that period with Kopytem sem, kopytem tam (Tainted Horseplay). The protagonists of the caustic group portrait are pals who enjoy a tipple, all kinds of hi-jinks and no-strings sexual adventures. Auditor Pepe (Tomáš Hanák), vet Dědek (Milan Šteindler) and restaurant manager František (David Vávra) are financially secure and enjoy life with their similarly fun-loving girlfriends – at least until the moment when the brash Pepe collapses and ends up in hospital. It transpires that one of the group is HIV positive – and their hitherto cheerily shared promiscuity is replaced by the paranoid collapse of previously friendly relationships…In Tainted Horseplay, which she co-wrote with Pavel Škapík, Chytilová, then almost 60, unerringly skewers not just the moral decrepitude of the late 1980s but also the incompatible relationships of men and women, two of the film’s key themes. The target of the director’s uncompromisingly sharp-focused condemnation was not just fruitless official structures but the new, showily non-conformist generation beset by boredom, alienation, amorality and spiritual emptiness. Chytilová found well-disposed collaborators among members of Prague’s Sklep theatre who played the main characters with great gusto, drawing freely on their own sarcastic poetics. In Tainted Horseplay AIDS, then a taboo subject, became a metaphorical threat impacting not only irresponsible individuals but also those around them.
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