Carl Junghans’ film captures the tragic story of an aging laundress whose drudgery and toil support a licentious and abusive alcoholic husband. A psychological drama with social themes, it draws from Zola’s novel, The Kill, and with full cinematic expression, a progressive approach to montage and emphasis on the symbolic power of close-ups, represents the climax of silent film.
Despite the birth of the “talkie” in the late ‘20s, the film, influenced by a wave of social realism in European cinematography, was shot as a silent motion-picture, adversely effecting its financial success. Although its premiere in Czech theaters went almost unnoticed, it is recognized as a world class film from the peak of the era of silent film and, as such, was acknowledged by film historians in Brussels in 1958. For its re-lease in 1959, preserved film materials were reassembled by Elmar Klos, while original music, “tailored” to the production, was composed by Zdeněk Liška.
Since it was not possible to use Liška's music from the shorter print of the film from 1959, Jan Burian Jr. composed a new abstract musical score for the restored version. The film was distributed with this newly recorded music, and by agreement also had screenings with Burian performing the accompaniment live.
The National Film Archive digitally restored the film Such is Life in 2016 with the help of generous grants from Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway and thanks to the support of the Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic. The Norwegian National Library and CESNET were project partners.
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