Director Drahomíra Vihanová made her debut with the film Zabitá neděle (A Squandered Sunday, 1969), only to find that her first full-length feature would not be screened in cinemas for political reasons. This estimable film therefore had to wait until 1990 for its official premiere. Vihanová devoted the next two decades to making documentary films, only returning to features after 1989. Black and white parable Pevnost (The Fortress, 1994), based on a short story by Alexandr Kliment, was inspired by the poetics of the Czechoslovak New Wave of the 1960s. Zabitá neděle was also shaped by the formal and theoretical framework of the 1960s movement. However, her next drama Zpráva o putování studentů Petra a Jakuba (The Pilgrimage of Students and Jacob, 2000) failed to meet the expectations of both viewers and critics, with the result that Vihanová remained the author of only three feature films… Zabitá neděle was an adaptation of a short story of the same title by Jiří Křenek, part of a trilogy with a military setting. Two of Křenek´s stories were centred upon the cult of personality of the 1950s, while a longer story explored contemporary themes. All three stories were about men who due to their class origins end up in remote military garrisons, where they suffer a combination of overwhelming boredom and lethargy caused by the mechanical repetition of routine tasks. The main protagonist of Vihanová’s intimate psychological drama is officer Arnošt (Ivan Palúch), who one sunny day finds a refuge from the feeling that his life has been wasted in a prolonged retreat into nostalgia. He then commits suicide. One of the darkest offerings from the New Wave, the film captures the sense of scepticism, futility and despair felt by its hero as he contemplates the inert space-time of his life. The existential element of the film transcends both the military and historical aspects. What the film really seems to be about is the timeless desire to gain control over one’s life. The exceptional formal facet of the feature still captivates the spectator by contrast between the hero´s stagnation and the dynamic way in which the author treats the time-space of the narration.
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