Shot in 1968 whilst Czechoslovakia enjoyed a brief moment of political liberalization, Larks on a String is a searing political comedy from director Jiří Menzel and writer Bohumil Hrabal. Like their earlier Oscar-winning triumph Closely Observed Trains, it audaciously combines black humour with grim reality.
Set in a scrap metal yard where political dissidents are interned for 're-education', the film is both a powerful critique of totalitarianism and a celebration of the resilience of the human spirit.
By the time Larks on a String was completed, the Soviet invasion had restored a repressive Communist regime. The film was promptly banned and remained unseen until 1990, when it was finally released to great acclaim winning the grand prize at the Berlin Film Festival that year.
Presented in a new digital restoration with remastered picture and sound, a newly filmed piece with director Jiří Menzel and a new extended essay on the film, Menzel and Hrabal by author Peter Hames.
• Jiří Menzel: 7 Questions – an idiosyncratic reflection on the film and its history, newly shot by the director specially for this DVD release.
• Booklet featuring and a new extended essay by author and film programmer Peter Hames and an introduction by DoP Jaromír Šofr.
• Presented in a new digital transfer with restored picture and sound.
• New and improved English subtitle translation.
• Available for the first time on DVD in the English speaking world.
Rudolf Hrušínský – Union foreman
Václav Neckář – Pavel
Jitka Zelenohorská – Jitka
Vlastmil Brodský – Professor
Vladimír Ptáček – Dairyman
Leos Suchařípa – Lawyer
Ferdinand Krůta – Kudla
Frantisek Řehák – Drobeček
Jaroslav Satoranský – Guard Anděl (Angel)
Directed by Jiří Menzel
Screenplay - Bohumil Hrabal and Jiří Menzel
Adapted from the short stories by Bohumil Hrabal
Cinematography - Jaromír Šofr
Art Direction - Oldřich Bosák
Music - Jiří Šust
Editor - Jiřina Lukešová
Sound - Jiří Pavlík
Production Supervisor - Karel Kochman
Winner: Golden Bear / Berlin Film Festival 1990
"This long-suppressed Czechoslovak film offers a trenchant blend of playfulness and political satire"
Janet Maslin, New York Times
"Larks on a String looks totalitarianism straight in the eye and, instead of spitting, laughs" Marc Savlov, Austin Chronicle
"Light and sunny, buoyant and dangerously lyrical" LA Times