Skylarks on the String

Picture Skylarks on the String

Skylarks on the String

Original title: Skřivánci na niti
Director: Jiří Menzel
Cast: Rudolf Hrušínský, Václav Neckář, Jitka Zelenohorská, Vlastimil Brodský
Country: Czechoslovakia
Year of production: 1969
Length (min): 89
Language: Czech
Sales: Národní Filmový Archiv
Section: Tribute: Jiří Menzel

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The film is set in Kladno steelworks, a place where political offenders against the communist regime were sent for “temporary employment”. These might include insubordinate intellectuals, religious affiliates or small traders. The temporary workers in the film include a former state prosecutor (Leoš Suchařípa), a young Adventist named Pavel (Václav Neckář), his love and fellow inmate Jitka (Jitka Zelenohorská) and the barber Kudla (Ferdinand Krůta). All are watched over by the young guard Anděl (Jaroslav Satoranský) who has also been charged with keeping an eye on the “hill girls” – women who try to cross over the country’s mountainous western borders. Although the main protagonists are all in the same boat, friendship and mutual loyalty have their limitations when there is no chance of justice and no way to appeal for help. 

Jiří Menzel

He studied at FAMU and, together with other fellow-students, helped to bring international recognition to Czechoslovak cinematography during the 1960s. He gave his successful debut with an adaptation of Hrabal´s Closely Watched Trains which won him an Oscar. He continued to focus chiefly on humorous adaptations of literary works, in particular, Bohumil Hrabal and Vladislav Vančura, and lightly stylised comedies, of which his most celebrated is My Sweet Little Village.

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