Archive of films Burning Bush / Hořící keř
2013, 231 min
Section: Special Events
This film, which opens with a scene portraying the self-immolation of Jan Palach, presents a suggestive panorama of Czech society on the threshold of the oppressive twenty-year normalisation era. It centres on the female lawyer who defended Palach’s sacrifice in the wake of false allegations; in her judicial defeat, and in her moral victory, she represents the countless numbers of similar conflicts that arose between the individual and totalitarian power.
This three-part, almost four-hour-long project for HBO Europe will certainly be a major achievement of this line of Agnieszka Holland’s work, in which she urgently addresses the moral aspects of human behaviour and decision-making. The cornerstone of this pointed analysis of the socio-political situation which developed in the first few years after August 1968, is the pivotal sacrifice of Jan Palach, now etched in history. By setting himself on fire in January 1969 he wanted to rouse people from the lethargy which had already begun to descend upon them under the pressure of mounting totalitarian practices, and to call upon them to take responsibility for the fate of their nation. The specific events of one chapter of recent Czechoslovak history are here evoked as a stirring, grim drama involving a host of vividly depicted individuals, a drama in which those who acknowledge Palach’s legacy are left to face difficult ordeals. At the same time, however, the film grows into a timeless and universal statement of the loneliness of the courageous, and of the continual need to choose between good and evil.
About the director
Agnieszka Holland (b. 1948, Warsaw) began making her incisive film testimonies in Poland a few years after graduating as a director from FAMU (1971). She worked closely with Krzysztof Zanussi and Andrzej Wajda, coming close to the latter in her focus on artistic and eloquent expression, in the tragic conception of her heroes, and in the ethos underlying her work. The films from her Polish era (Sunday Children, 1976; Provincial Actors, 1978; A Lonely Woman, 1981) have a greater air of authenticity and are more bleak than those she has made in Europe and America over the past three decades; all of them, however, portray the unequal struggle of the individual against the oppression of the era and of society, and against our own inner conflicts (Angry Harvest, 1985; Europa, Europa, 1990; Total Eclipse, 1995; In Darkness, 2011). Today she is a leading figure of world film.
About the film
|Dir. of Photography:||Martin Štrba|
|Cast:||Tatiana Pauhofová, Jaroslava Pokorná, Petr Stach, Jan Budař, Ivan Trojan, Igor Bareš, Vojtěch Kotek, Adrian Jastraban, Martin Huba|
|Contact:||HBO Europe, Beta Film GmbH|
Director of Photography, Film Director
Pavla Janoušková Kubečková