Larks on a String

Film
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This satire was completed in 1969 and promptly banned by the authorities put in place in Czechoslovakia after the Soviet invasion of 1968. If it's easy to see why the apparatchiks weren't exactly chuffed with it, Menzel's still not the most hard-hitting of film-makers: here, as sundry bourgeois types are relocated to a '50s Stalinist factory workplace for 're-education', the focus is as much on their romantic misadventures with the women in the adjoining camp as it is on dissecting the harsh injustice of the system. For those who savour whimsy.

By: TJ

Release details

Duration: 90 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Jirí Menzel
Screenwriter: Bohumil Hrabal, Jirí Menzel
Cast: Rudolf Hrusinsky
Václav Neckar
Vladimir Brodsky
Leos Sucharipa
Jitka Zelenohorska
Nada Urbankova

Average User Rating

5 / 5

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Better than Menzel's previous Oscar winning collaboration with Czech novelist Bohumil Hrabal, Larks on a String portrays the ridiculousness and injustice of the early communist state in Czechoslovakia. A conformist authoritarian machine asserts its pointlessness on the irrepressible humanity of 'bourgeoise' prisoners in a correction camp. It is what has sometimes been called the humanist realism of Hrabal and Menzel that some mistake for whimsy. If Menzel were a hard-hitting film maker would, he would be a less honest film maker. A Hollywood anti-communist film would be a much clearer battle of good versus equal. There would be tremendous heroics, great tragedy and a good deal of emotional manipulation of the audience. As it is, we have a film that delivers its message simply as hymn to humanity and nonconformity. It is message that was so devastating for the authorities that banned it.


Better than Menzel's previous Oscar winning collaboration with Czech novelist Bohumil Hrabal, Larks on a String portrays the ridiculousness and injustice of the early communist state in Czechoslovakia. A conformist authoritarian machine asserts its pointlessness on the irrepressible humanity of 'bourgeoise' prisoners in a correction camp. It is what has sometimes been called the humanist realism of Hrabal and Menzel that some mistake for whimsy. If Menzel were a hard-hitting film maker would, he would be a less honest film maker. A Hollywood anti-communist film would be a much clearer battle of good versus equal. There would be tremendous heroics, great tragedy and a good deal of emotional manipulation of the audience. As it is, we have a film that delivers its message simply as hymn to humanity and nonconformity. It is message that was so devastating for the authorities that banned it.