(director/writer: Karel Kachyna; screenwriters: from a story by Jan Prochazka/Jan Prochazka; cinematographer: Josef Illik; editor: Miroslav Hanek; music: Svatopluk Havelka; cast: Jirina Bohdalová (Anna), Radoslav Brzobohatý (Ludvik), Gusta v Opocenský (Conrade), Miloslav Holub (General); Runtime: 94; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Karel Vejrik; Janus; 1970- Czechoslovakia-in Czech with English subtitles)

“Haunting Orwellian film about life in Czechoslovakia under the Russians.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

The Ear is the listening devices planted in the house of a Czech diplomat during the Russian occupation. Karel Kachyna (“The Cow”/”The Last Butterfly”) directs this haunting Orwellian film about life in Czechoslovakia under the Russians. It reveals the desperation and paranoia of the Communist occupation. The black and white film was banned and not released in 1970 until twenty years later. It’s written by the director and the former government official Jan Prochazka, from his story. Former bricklayer Ludvik (Radoslav Brzobohatý) is a middle-aged deputy minister who returns to his comfortable suburban house that evening with his middle-aged wife Anna (Jirina Bohdalová), the daughter of a bar owner, from a government function for its Party leaders in Prague and wonders if he’ll be arrested that night since his boss was arrested at the reception. His house suffers from a power outage and is bugged, and his marriage of ten years is tense. The couple are constantly bickering and live a joyless life. Fearing he will be part of the purge, he spends the night arguing with his loose-lipped tipsy wife and destroying his work-related papers. Their son sleeps through their ordeal. When visited unexpectedly that night by drunken Party officials, he’s relieved not to be arrested. This nightmare only moves on to an eerie ending in the morning, when a phone call informs him he’s promoted to take the place of his boss instead of arrested. The aesthetic film was shot under the censorship of the Soviet occupying forces during the post-1968 Warsaw Pact invasion period known as Normalization. That was the program that began its repressive hold on Czech film production.

REVIEWED ON 12/31/2016 GRADE: B+    https://dennisschwartzreviews.com/