Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: Anna Geislerová, György Cserhalmi, Ivan Trojan, Jaroslava Adamová, Miroslav Donutil
Director: Ondrej Trojan
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Military & War
Part of the resistance movement in 1940s Czechoslovakia, a woman must hide when her lover flees and ends up in a remote mountain village where a local man decides she can pose as his wife. — Genre: Foreign Film - Other — Rat... more »
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Kathleen O. (Kathleen) from WALDPORT, OR
Reviewed on 2/28/2010...
This is a wonderful movie set during WW 2 in Czechoslovakia. The acting is superb and the story is a difficult one emotionally but also very touching.
The story itself is about a woman who works for the resistance. She is separated from her lover and taken by one of her patients (she is working on her med degree) to a very backward village in the mountains to hide her from the Nazi's as his wife.
Even though the movie is in the Czech language and I watched it using English subtitles, the acting is so superb that I did not mind at all.
Must see for those who love romantic epics
E. Holmes | Seattle, WA USA | 10/28/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a film that I would heartly recommend to anyone. It's a perfect film for a Saturday night viewing with friends, at whoever's house has the biggest screen and the best speakers. The cinematography is sweeping and rich, and the score is moving. The story is epic, compelling and romantic (without getting sappy). Other films of this genre that come to mind are 'Cold Mountain' and 'Witness'.
Zelary is also chance to enjoy the work of prolific actresses/actors, most of whose work hardly makes it out of Eastern Europe. Ana Geislerova is currently one of the most popular actresses in the Czech Republic. Geislerova plays Eliska, a the young woman who must hide herself in a small village and to fit in must marry Joza, a sawmill worker whose life she saved with a blood transfusion. She received her 2nd Czech Lion, the Czech Oscar, for this perfomance. Her co-lead, György Cserhalmi (who looks a little like a cross between Harrison Ford and John Wayne), puts in a charismatic perfomance as Joza, the strong, taciturn, mid-50s sawmill worker. Cserhalmi has been one the leading actors in Hungary since the 1980s, performing in over 70 films. He was nominated for a Czech Lion (his 2nd, I think) for his performance in Zelary. As you will know after reading the DVD cover, Eliska and Joza fall in love eventually. The actors' performances are nuanced and *completely* believeable as their relationship changes from awkward and reserved to intimate.
Other reviews capably discuss the plot. Instead I'll review other production aspects and give some other background.
Review of the subtitles and translation
The English subtitles are well-done and accurate. But there were a couple scenes where the Czech meaning was noticeably lost because of differences in the structure of English versus Czech. In the beginning on the train, they are speaking using formal noun and verb endings, which are used for people who are not friends or family. Then Eliska says "We shouldn't be so formal" (meaning they are supposed to be pretending to not be strangers), but it's poorly translated as "We needn't be so formal". Joza then proceeds to use the formal structure again and Eliska, somewhat irritatingly, corrects him and makes him repeat after her with informal endings. If you don't understand what's being said, it's confusing why Eliska seems to be trying to teach him how to talk. Later right after they get off the train, Joza uses the formal structure (again) to tell her to be careful about the mud, and her sarcastic response (in Czech) is "Are you capable of being of speaking informally?" to which he responds, tersely, "I am" (meaning "I am capable of that"). However, in the film the translation of this dialogue is "Must you be so formal?" to which he responds, "No". This does not capture the sarcastic tone of Eliska's actual phrasing in Czech.
The soundtrack is difficult to get outside the Czech Republic. You can find it at eshop.evropa2.cz, but the site is in Czech. You'll need to search for Zelary. Look for the box marked 'hledej' (means 'search') and type in zelary. This should bring up the soundtrack where you can listen to clips at least. The soundtrack is available on the PAL version of the film that was released in the Czech Republic. You'll find it here: cdmusic.cz (the site is in English, and is by the way a good source for Czech films, most subtitled). Warning the soundtrack seems to be at least partially taken from the movie and has some dialogue. The NTSC version of the DVD comes with English and French subtitles. The PAL version has Czech, English, and German subtitles.
Other stuff on the DVD
There is a short film on "The making of Zelary". This is good. Make sure to check this out. There is also a short film on "Going to the Oscars". This is ho-hum. The PAL version has the soundtrack and a photo-gallery of shots from the filming and from the film. The photogallery and soundtrack are NOT on the NTSC version.
* There is a 28-year difference between the 2 leads. Geislerova was born in 1976 and Cserhalmi in 1948.
* The 2 leads did not talk at all off the set. Geislerova: "We knew each other only as characters in the film." There was a language barrier between the leads since Cserhalmi is Hungarian and Geislerova is Czech.
* Cserhalmi delivered many of his lines in Hungarian and Czech was dubbed over later. Geislerova wanted him to do this, since his Czech was breaking her concentration. Geislerova said in an interview: "I didn't understand a word he was saying."
* The doctor, Richard, was played by the director's brother.
* The actor, Miroslav Donutil, who played the priest is famous as a comic actor and comedian in the Czech Republic.
* Zene, the mother of Helenka in the film, is played by a famous Czech singer.
* The script is based on the autobiographical novella, 'Jozova Hanule' (Joe's Annie), by Kv?ta Legátová. It has been translated into Croatian, German (under the title Der Mann aus Zelery) and Spanish (under the title La Transformacion). The German translation is available on amazon.co.uk and amazon.de."
Love is where you find it
Joseph Haschka | Glendale, CA USA | 04/27/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Recently, I've particularly enjoyed a couple of films that I'd characterize as "chick flicks". ZELARY is the most recent, following on SHALL WE DANCE. I should schedule an appointment with my Family Practice witchdoctor to have my hormone levels checked. I'll know I'm in dire straits if I become addicted to the Home and Garden TV channel.
It's Nazi-occupied Prague in 1943. Young Eliska (Anna Geislerová) is a nurse in one of the city's hospitals and lover to one of its staff surgeons. In her spare time, she's a courier for the local Resistance. When one of the network is captured by the Gestapo, it's decided to evacuate Eliska to the mountain hamlet of Zelary accompanied by one of its residents, Joza (György Cserhalmi), a much older man that Eliska recently nursed back to health after his injury in a sawmill accident. So that her sanctuary in the village seems natural, and in order that she be accepted by the other inhabitants, Eliska and Joza wed. For the city-bred and sophisticated Eliska, her marriage in this rustic place is hardly an act of love. While Jozy is a good and kind man, he's also a rural bumpkin, who lives in a dirt-floor cabin without electricity, running water, or an indoor loo; he doesn't even take regular baths.
As you would correctly infer from the title of this review, this alliance of necessity turns into a love affair. The charm of this beautifully photographed film is that the story unfolds without the saccharine sweetness of a fairy tale romance. Indeed, after two years in the mountains, by which time the area is, um, "liberated" by advancing Soviet troops, Eliska experiences both the sublime and sordid facets of human communal existence anywhere. An ending perhaps more tragic than the true romantic would prefer doesn't negate the fact that the story illustrates the old saw that "love is where you find it", and that in anyone's past there may be a time span and experiences that add to his/her character depths that are unplumbable to current friends and lovers.
All of the acting performances in ZELARY were excellent, and that of Cserhalmi as the simple, salt-of-the-earth Joza was especially engaging. ZELARY was a viewing pleasure that I didn't want to end. And if that doesn't indicate a five-star film, then I don't know what does."
Zelary is a superb romantic film
David Thomson | Houston, TX USA | 07/30/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The love story about two utterly different individuals speaks volumes about the human condition. Eliska is a well educated woman who under normal circumstances would have little to do with Joza, a mere sawmill worker who lives in a small house with a dirt floor and no indoor plumbing. The man does not own a single book nor reading material of any kind. It is doubtful if he can even read at the level expected of a grade school graduate. Alas, this is wartime and the Nazis are searching for Eliska because of her involvement in the resistance. Hiding in the Czech boondocks and marrying the socially inferior Joza is her only viable alternative. She eventually learns to love him and make the best of a less than ideal situation. The term culture shock most appropriately describes Eliska's challenge to be accepted by those who perceive her to both be an outsider and a risk to their own safety. Nazi soldiers, as expected, don't hesitate to kill those who hide enemies of the Third Reich. Will Eliska be betrayed? Can her relationship with the villagers ever become warm and intense? We observe the process unfold over a period of a few years. Anyone who enjoys romantic stories must see Zelary. It may very well be ranked among your favorites of all time. Yes, it is that good of a movie. You should not be disappointed.
One wonders why it is so difficult to find a copy of Zelary's music score. It is among the best I've heard in years. Could it be due to the fact that few Czech films are imported to the United States? Whatever, I hope this might be rectified in the near future."