The Valley of the Bees

Frantisek Vlácil (Markéta Lazarová) creates an astonishing evocation of the chaos and fury of the Middle Ages. At its core is the conflict between the formality and repression of organized religion and the primitive sensuality of everyday humanity. Banished from his village after his father's wedding, a young man joins a strict religious order; years later, he returns home, followed by a puritanical knight and, naturally, death. Vlácil saturates the screen with a grandeur that could make Kurosawa envious, yet with a geometric rigor that Eisenstein would recognize. Banishment, slaughter, and vengeance; lust and incest; raving religious bigots, dreamily handsome knights, and doe-eyed teenage brides; squeaking bats and man-eating dogs; forbidding castles and forlorn churches: all are revealed with a fusion of sound and image so perfectly dreamlike that one sense bleeds into another, whispered prayers become almost seen, unholy visions nearly heard.

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