The new film by Radim Procházka discovers a “tunnel“ not only in Drnovice village but rather in the whole of Czech Republic.
My first association related to the title of the latest film by Radim Procházka was the notion of the Italian Quattrocento. Dante, Petrarca, Bocaccio, rispetto, terzina… The fact that the term catenaccio does not originate from literary but football terminology only became clear to me while watching the film. Definitely, the elegance of sonnets by the great poets of the Italian Rennaissance can hardly compare with the ballet show of the squadra azzura. Yet after watching the film, it seemed to me that the Drnovice story of a team of village football players penetrating the premier league due to the cunning of a cheater may have fallen right out of the Decameron.
The film’s playful, satirical character is demonstrated from the very first scenes on by means of a retro-reportage style. An expedition of investigative journalists sets into the economic prehistory to discover a phenomenon of global significance – the tunnel. Boldly playing with its formal aspect, the film mocks the film and television journalism of the past, “analogue” days. This is represented most noticeably by the image being filmed on 8mm format as well as by means of a fervent voiceover commentary. The method is interesting and really entertaining at certain moments. What makes it bold is that on one hand, the film makes fun of people who may still be influential today; on the other hand, there is a risk that some spectators won’t understand its style, failing to accept the film as such (as partially reflected in online viewers’ discussions).
The best comparison that can be made is to liken the film to the Oscar-winning Oil Gobblers by Jan Svěrák. In both cases, there is an expedition setting on a journey against the course of time to reveal a curious anomaly to the non-professional world. In the former case, the discovery is made in the field of zoology; in the latter, it is in the field of economics. Both phenomena are local, or even specifically Czech, on one hand, while on the other, they are of global significance. Both the “oil gobbler” and “tunnel” are introduced as Czech “inventions” that have enriched the world. What the filmmakers have in mind and also achieve by means of hyperbole is a criticism of the situation in the society that leads to the origination of such “inventions”. In this case, however, the film by Radim Procházka has one more important effect that can be considered as the film’s message.
“The wild onset of capitalism in the 1990s has influenced the times of today in no smaller degree than the uncondemned trials of the 1950s”, thus a quote by Radim Procházka on the website of the Czech Television. In this respect, the film not only criticizes, but also carnevalizes; not only reveals, but also ridicules. Obviously, it has a therapeutic function, causing a positive effect of catharsis in its viewers. If we are unable to cure our guilty social consciousness by appropriate means, there is at least a need to relieve our frustrated sense of justice. The uncured wound, still undoubtedly represented by the wild gold-digging of the 1990s in the Czech society, shall now be healed by means of laughter; not a detached ironic sigh though but the boisterous, cleansing carnival laughter, with the emperor parading his ugly, ridiculous nakedness in front of everybody’s eyes. With respect to the fact that soon after the film release, the makers of the film became the target of a lawsuit by the main engineer of the Drnovice miracle Jan Gotwald, they seem to have hit the bull’s eye.
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