The Tender Humor of 'Loves of a Blonde'

The film industry was officially founded in Czechoslovakia in 1945, but naturally, under a communist regime, all of its projects sought to preach the creation of this idealistic new world, and did very little more than mere propaganda; come the 1960’s, and with the political state of the country being somewhat disturbed, film executives tended to give young directors more artistic freedom to avoid the image of dictatorial interference in the creative process, and thus, the Czech New Wave emerged, with many young filmmakers aspiring to make movies that reflected their ideas and beliefs on the screen, not the state’s. One of the most successful films out of the movement is Milos Forman’s 1965 Loves of a Blonde, a tender comedy that wittily deals with many contemporary issues in a fun, light-hearted manner.

Loves of a Blonde deals with the generational gap between the reservist old and the youthful new, giving much more importance to the latter and fully exploring youth through the act of falling in love. The film is about Andula, a young worker in a shoe factory in a small Czech town, where the boss decides upon noticing that females outnumber males radically, invites a group of soldiers to live in the city; the girls expect handsome young men, but the soldiers are middle-aged and married, and only want a fun time of carnal unfaithfulness; in the middle of this hectic state, Andula falls in love. The film opens with a scene of her and a friend laying in bed as she tells her about a ring her boyfriend gave her and a flirtatious meeting with a forest ranger; the next scene cuts to a meeting at the factory where the boss is preaching about the importance of having more men in the town for both sexes, shot in a mocking, comic manner...the first ten minutes of the film set up the theme: the young against the old, rebelliousness against systematization, freedom against rigidness.

Black-and-white cinematography, rich compositions, still and static, Loves of a Blonde is shot in a cinema-verité style that still manages to invoke a deep feeling of serenity. The film gives new meaning to the term motion picture: every scene feels like a painting where characters jump in and interact while the background stays still, and every scene takes its sweet time playing itself out in no rush; the slowness of the film’s pacing in such a small runtime fully transforms into the picture, it is quite literally mesmerizing. The film’s lens not only brings life to its setting, but also gives incredible depth to its characters, the low-contrast lighting with the close-ups on a cast of mostly amateurs grants it a certain romantic realism, relatable yet tender.

The film comically yet harshly criticizes the conservative old, whether it is the old soldiers failing miserably to gain the girls’ attention and fighting amongst their own, or parents treating their son’s girlfriend insultingly, any notion associated with the repressive traditional is mocked into oblivion. Loves of a Blonde’s depiction of youth, however, is the exact opposite: infinitely tender, beautifully romantic and even blindly forgiving; the young make mistakes and learn from them. Andula falls in love with a womanizing young piano player, and the scene showing their intimacy perfectly embodies the film’s starry-eyed vision of youth; it captures a million feelings in a matter of a few minutes, comic childishness as he struggles with a window shade that won’t close down, intense climax as they make love, captured through Andula’s face as she confesses her feelings passionately, and ultimately, serene quietude as they lay together joyfully conversing.

Loves of a Blonde is not only an emblem of Czech New Wave, but a masterpiece of world cinema whose status only grew over the years, a film that is as critically important as it is light-heartedly warm. It is only the first film of our journey through the cinema of Czechoslovakia this week, which still holds many more wonders, a few of which will be discussed right here on Exhuming Cinema.


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