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BLACK PETER (1964, ČSL) – 7.5/10

 

Miloš Forman is probably the most famous and successful Czech filmmaker of all time, a filmmaker who, after making his way in his homeland in the sixties, also had a great American career, winning two Oscars for best director (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and Amadeus). What is particularly fascinating about Forman is that from an avant-garde filmmaker from his youth and one of the pioneers of the Czechoslovak new wave, he later turned into an excellent studio director who was equally good at dramas, biographical films, musicals and filmed relevant works for more than four decades.

A humorous drama shot almost in the classic Cinema Verite style about a Czech teenager who doesn’t know what to do with himself over the summer, it was also Forman’s first feature film. “Crni petar” follows a few days in the life of young Peter as he finds his first job, enters into conflicts with his conservative parents and tries to seduce his first girlfriend. Forman filmed this completely romanticized coming-of-age comedy drama about growing up, life and leisure of a young man in socialist Czechoslovakia, and he finely captured everything that goes with those years and all the teenage torments.

While Peter’s strict father pressures and scolds his only son to wise up, get serious and think about what to do with life, this young man thinks mostly about what almost all his peers are thinking about. About going out, having fun, girls, and here Forman shows everything, let’s call it the torments and problems of teenagers, but with empathy and humor. “Cerny Petr” is considered one of the first films of the Czechoslovak new wave, and although Forman shot and finished it in 1963, the premiere had to wait until April of the following year. Later, this film was shown at the festival in Locarno, Switzerland, where “Black Peter” won the main prize, namely the Golden Leopard.

As in most of the films of that early stage, Forman assembled a cast that had little or no acting experience, and he used the same principle in the next two domestic films (Love of a Blonde and Burn My Miss). This film is a great example of how Forman’s creativity, but also the entire Czechoslovak new wave in general, incredibly influenced the entire Eastern European cinematography, including that of Yugoslavia, which also in the second half of the sixties began to produce films that were a complete departure from the standard neorealism. Although half a century has passed since the filming of “Black Peter”, we see that not much has changed in the thoughts and problems of young people and that teenage years are the ideal time to enjoy life, carefreeness and freedom before the time comes when should have wised up and taken it seriously.

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