Subtitles: English .srt
The Sun in a Net depicts the lives of two youths in Bratislava who experience problems between themselves and at home. Bela is a blond, attractive teenager who comes from a dysfunctional family. Her mother is blind and her adulterous father is indifferent to his wife’s disability. She and her little brother Milo (Peter Lobotka) must act as the parents in this household, keeping it together and caring for their incapacitated mother. Fajolo, Bela’s boyfriend, is an indecisive young man. He has trouble expressing his feelings to Bela and seems self-absorbed. Fajolo’s family—his mother, father, and himself—have strained interactions with one another. His busy parents are heard but never seen onscreen, which is an effective way of portraying them as detached, perhaps even uncaring.
The early 1960s saw some relaxation of communism in Czechoslovakia. The Sun in a Net was the first film that took advantage of this new atmosphere. It brought a number of hitherto unacceptable social and political themes:distant — perhaps uncaring — parents, a philandering husband, teenagers changing partners, an attempt at suicide, a poorly run collectivized farm, the fact that the students disdained the summer "voluntary work" camps. None of these issues are resolved in a "positive" manner. The core storyline — the ups and downs in the relationship of two teenagers — the realism and novelty of its urban setting, and the hints at some social and political taboos were not lost on the audience, and cannot have been lost on the censors. The Sun in a Net pushed the envelope and showed artists, and the audience at large, what the authorities could now be pressed to permit.
Besides Štefan Uher’s effort to get past the strict requirements of Socialist Realism, the director was inspired by some of the trends current in (Western) European cinema and culture in the 1950s. Among them were traces of Italian neorealism, the film's low-key style, a hint of fashionable existentialism in the dialogues, and attempts at cinéma-vérité amplified in the beer-drinking scenes in a tavern by the employment of a background soundtrack with taped unscripted conversations of real villagers. That also motivated Uher's choice of unconversant actors or non-actors. Some of the film's traits inspired students at the FAMU, who soon followed with a series of films known as the Czechoslovak/Czech New Wave.
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