Marketa Lazarová ★★★

"There is no meaning in life
Without pain."
Winter's virgin stolen
Uglied by spring's mud.
Forever wandering.

Eastern European New Wave cinema is usually my total jam, and from what I've seen, I almost always prefer it to their Western New Wave counter parts. Eric's walkout the other week didn't phase me—assumed it was on a count of the supposed "miserbalism," which is good portion of films I watch anyways. But Marketa Lazarova is damn near incomprehensible on a narrative level, and every time I sort of got a handle on who exactly is who and what is going on, things get ever crazier and more absurd. I'm not against narrative being lucid and surreal, but I also thought of the Russian work Khrystalyov, My Car!, which at least follows 1) a main central character more or less and 2) has lots and lots of jokes. It is partially one of those things that characters look too much alike and locations all blend in to each other to give you a sense of what's going on, but Vlacil states himself he wanted to create "film-opera" and abandon narrative all together (every 15 minutes we get a title card that should explain what follows, but good luck if you even recognize the name of the characters). However, this isn't that painful of a film because the aesthetics are radically awesome—imagine Jansco and Eisenstein together on acid. Zooms, epic pans, deep focus, tracking through thistles (hi Malick!), and very unique uses of framing throughout—people always throw that phrase "creates a cinematic language all on its own," but only a few films actually deserve it, and this is certainly one of them. Now if I could only make heads or tales of what all this is supposed to mean. Repeat viewings might help, as well as a thorough scene-by-scene summary to use as a guide.