"Loves a Blonde": Movie, DVD Review

11/29/2009 Posted by Admin

Movie, DVD Review

"Loves a Blonde" (1965)

Directed by Milos Forman, 84 minutes.

By our guest blogger, Eva Medoff

There is a stereotype that Czechs are notoriously reserved (41 years of Communist rule will do that to you). There is one thing, however, they are not reserved about in the slightest, and that is love. Like most Europeans, Czechs are far more open about sex than Americans--today, scenes witnessed on a Czech metro wouldn’t even be tolerated on a hormonal CW show in the US. Then again, years of repression by the Soviet Union, Nazi Germany and the Austrio-Hungarian Empire before them took its artistic toll on this tiny country in Central Europe. Which is why, circa 1965, it was all the more surprising when Czechoslovakia experienced its own revolution in film--the Czech New Wave.

Of its cinematic achievements, Miloš Forman’s “Loves of a Blonde” is required viewing for anyone interested in '60s film.

“Loves of a Blonde” (also known as “A Blonde in Love”), tells the story of Andula (Hana Brejchová), a young factory worker living in the old mill town of Zruč. Our heroine is a Czech Brigitte Bardot, complete with volumized blonde hair and heavy eyeliner. In Zruč, the factories are all women, the females outnumber the males to an alarming degree, and there’s little else to do but daydream about ways to make a better life. Czechoslovakia was a nation imprisoned, and Andula was a girl imprisoned by her gender and class.

It’s little wonder Andula tends to fall for any attractive guy that looks her way. Attaching herself to a man is her only means of escape. When the film opens, Andula whispers to a friend underneath the covers in her girls dormitory (yes, this was 1965, not the Lowell mills of the 19th century, though the similarities are striking) about her current beau, who gave her an engagement ring and promptly disappeared. Although Andula doesn’t admit this fact to her friend, she seems to have moved on when a train full of soldiers descends on the town for a dance.

The manager of the factory is determined to provide some entertainment for the girls, so arranges for the night of comingling. “They work eight hours a day,” he says, and when they go home they have no one to “caress them.” Even this guy is concerned with the girls’ sex lives.

The Czech New Wave was characterized by long, improvised dialogue and the use of nonprofessional actors. This can be seen in the dance sequence, the longest stretch of the film. Forman handles the flirtation ritual with hilarity and warmth, showing a group of unattractive, nervous soldiers debate whether to approach Andula and her friends, and on the flip side, Andula and her friends panicking about the unattractive soldiers looking their way.

Despite all this, Andula ends the night chatting with a handsome pianist, Milda (Vladimír Pucholt) who unabashedly attempts to lure her to his dormitory. His coercion from stairwell to room, doorway to bed, and sweater to bare back is borderline criminal, and certainly unethical. However, the shot of Milda and Andula lying draped on each other in bed is worth any murky moral conundrums, especially when Milda utters the most famous line of the film. He calls Andula angular, explaining that all women look like guitars. “And you, you look like a guitar too," he says, "but one painted by Picasso.”

Andula mistakes their night of passion for true love and decides to follow Milda back to his parent’s house in Prague. The debacle caused by her unexpected arrival leads to more comical streams of dialogue, but I’ll stop short of describing the ending.

“Loves of a Blonde” is a snap shot to a different time and a different place. Not surprisingly, it was made during a period of relatively lax control of media, which reached its climax in 1968 during the Prague Spring. This movement toward freedom was swiftly crushed, and Forman made his way to New York and to five Academy Awards with “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.” If that film focused on a man imprisoned, “Loves of a Blonde” is about a girl encaged in a moment before a legendary director broke free of his own political confines.

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  1. Elizabeth said...

    I'm older than most here, but I remember seeing this in the theater, and falling in love it with. What a treat to find it here. Thank you, Eva, for a wonderful review. We'll never have another Bardot.