Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Scenes from "Divá Bára" [1949 Czechoslovakia]

Vladimir Cech's quaint little drama from 1949, "Divá Bára" [Eng. Trans: Wild Bara], is for those who love a good ol' fashioned 'black and white' romance now and again. Not the kind that'll well your eyes with tears though - it's just another jolly-good romp in classic Tarzan-and-Jane fashion.

Set around the nineteenth century, the straight-as-an-arrow linear narrative starts with baby Bára (short, for Barbara) born on a stormy night to a shepherd's wife. Her mother's unfortunate death during the delivery marks Bára as an ill omen by the village folk, and some will go as far as to branding her a future witch. The film fast-forwards to a youthful and all grown-up Bára (Vlasta Fialová) who, as if to add fuel to rumours, attracts plenty of attention from young lads in the village for her beauty, athleticism, and boldness - "wild Bára", they called her. And doting mothers went the extra mile to make sure their sons don't fall under her spell. Except the village priest and his niece Eliska, who take Bára under their wing, supporting her in whatever way they can. A handsome ranger falls in love with Bára, which she reciprocates. One day, she gets into trouble among some villagers, after she gets caught while playing a prank - by pretending to be a ghost, in order to dissuade a rich suitor of her friend Eliska from asking her hand. Eliska, after all, is in love with someone about her own age in the city, and had asked for Bára's help in stymieing his marriage proposal. Angry villagers lock her up in the local mortuary which accidentally catches fire, soon getting out of control. The heroic ranger arrives on horseback to rescue Bára in timely fashion, and together they walk away into the sunset.

A film like this should obviously be judged for its entertainment value alone. But it is rather well made, considering its age, and the cinema of the time - it even captures some stunning views of the Czech countryside in the process. There is a quaint air of innocence about the film, which I presume must have been wholeheartedly welcomed at the time - after all, people in the region were living through hell only a few years earlier. At least for the novelty, the film is Recommended Viewing!

Amazon DVD Link [PAL]
Divá Bára English Subtitles - 25 fps
[I compiled it especially for the above DVD as it only comes with Czech subtitles]


The Nudity: Vlasta Fialová
In the only nude scene of the film, Vlasta Fialová, who made her debut playing Bára, has a dip in the lake while lads from the village spy on her. One of them tries to take advantage when she emerges, but instead ends in the water himself.

Vlasta Fialová in Divá Bára


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