Menzel's second feature is adapted from a novel by Vladislav Vancura, rated alongside The Good Soldier Schweik as one of the twin masterpieces of Czech comic literature. Some of the dialogue's subtler social and philosophical relevance may prove elusive, but it hardly matters as three middle-aged friends - priest, retired army officer, and owner of the bathing-station - enjoy some end-of-season bathing in a small provincial watering-place, meanwhile discoursing desultorily on their favourite topics (philosophy, strategy, and fleshly pleasures). Suddenly, like a visitation from another planet, a caravan arrives, bringing a sad, stick-like showman who sets up in the village square. His tacky little tightrope-and-conjuring show is suddenly illuminated by real magic when his wife appears, a delicate, honey-haired vision of beauty in black mask and yellow dress. From that moment, with its glimpse of something lost and forgotten, a kind of autumnal madness invades the trio, until the caravan moves on, leaving them brooding again as the sun goes down on their last Indian summer of romance. Menzel's evocation of place and mood, of soft summer days threatened by winter, of regret for lost youth and opportunity, of hope for things to come, is perfection.
Cast and crew
Jiri Menzel, Vaclav Nyvlt