Director Jiří Menzel and screenwriter Zdeněk Svěrák worked together on Kdo hledá zlaté dno (Who Looks for Gold, 1974), Na samotě u lesa (A Cottage Near the Woods, 1976) and Život a neobyčejná dobrodružství vojáka Ivana Čonkina (The Life and Extraordinary Adventures of Private Ivan Chonkin, 1993). But the peak of their cooperation is undoubtedly this tragicomedy from 1985, which found itself among the finalists for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar. Vesničko má středisková (My Sweet Little Village), one of the most popular Czechoslovak films of the 1980s, actually came about by chance: rural comedy Na samotě u lesa was accidentally paid for twice by the accountants at Prague's Barrandov Film Studios. Svěrák then consented to the solution of writing another multi-page story treatment within several days. Instead of the pre-agreed rejection of the draft script, director Jiří Menzel took an interest in the project. But it was a number of years before the film moved from script to screen. Indeed, during the mid-1980s, Svěrák and Menzel benefited from far stronger opportunities to comment upon the socialist reality in which they lived. The story of Vesničko má středisková is set in the village of Křečovice. The main protagonists are the cooperative truck driver Pávek and his protégé, the mentally retarded young man Otík Rákosník. Pávek is angered by the constant mistakes of the silent youngster, and decides to get rid of him after the next harvest. But he then discovers that the unhappy Otík has been offered a job in Prague by a corrupt politician seeking to benefit from the sale of the young man’s picturesque villa. This leads Pávek to realise that Otík belongs at home, in the village where everyone – in spite of his affliction – loves him. The filmmakers tell this “village idiot” story by way of an episodic structure, filled with distinctive characters. These include the quirky doctor Skružný (Rudolf Hrušínský), who relishes in the poeticism of the Czech countryside, and the irascible Turek (Petr Čepek), who is justifiably concerned about the extra-marital exploits of his beautiful wife Jana (Libuše Šafránková). While Pávka is superbly played by Marián Labuda, the role of Otík was given to Hungarian actor János Bán.
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