Thursday, 14 October 2010

Empties (Vratne Lahve)

As a follow-up to my previous post about recycling beer bottles in the Czech Republic, I thought I might share with you a video clip from one of my favourite Czech films - Vratne Lahve. Its English title is Empties and is a story of a 65 year old man, who having given up a job teaching literature to annoying school children, ends up in a supermarket recycling beer bottles. It is set at a time when automatic bottle machines were just appearing in Czech supermarkets, instead you handed your bottles to a man on the other side of the hatch, who would give you a receipt.

The film comes the father and son team, Zdenek and Jan Sverak, which also gave us the Oscar-winning Kolya. Zdenek wrote and starred in the film, whilst son Jan directed. The film is a gentle comedy about a man, who has problems facing the approach of old age. It is full of wonderful characters including the man's long suffering wife and the many denizens of the supermarket. In the hands of Hollywood this film and this subject matter could be mawkish and certainly would be quicker paced, but instead it is lovely and forgiving (Zdenek's character is no angel), funny and sad, and ultimately life-affirming.


Karin said...

This was a great blog. It brought a lot of emotions remembered....I LOVED Kolya. So am really wanting to see EMPTIES! Thanks for the video.

Girl in Czechland said...

I really like this film too: the theme of love late in life is beautifully handled I think. It also made me wonder if I would still be giving English lessons at home when I'm in my sixties - perhaps everyone will want to learn Chinese by then!


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