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Painted Bird (The)

Country: Czech Republic, Language: Czech, 167 mins

  • Director: Vaclav Marhoul
  • Writer: Jerzy Kosinski; Vaclav Marhoul
  • Producer: Vaclav Marhoul; Ales Tybl; Zuzana Mistríková; Igor Savychenko

CGiii Comment

The absolute depths to where humanity can sink. This is unmitigated horror.

Václav Marhoul shows, he doesn't tell. Dialogue is kept to the minimum...simply because, words are not enough. The cruelty is explicit. This amount of cruelty is unbearable. You cannot 'enjoy' this film, it would be paradoxical to say so...but, the visual beauty is staggering. And...without a shadow of doubt, this is a master-at-work, producing a masterwork that took years to film.

A boy's journey through [what would seem 1 shy of Dante's 9 circles of] Hell, divided into 8 chapters, each as traumatic as the one before and the one after. And...not one person asks this boy's name throughout the 169 minute runtime...not even the priest. The scale of abuse this boy receives is indescribable...physical, racial, psychological and sexual [heterosexual as well as homosexual]. Julian Sands' character buys the boy...for work and for 'play', mercifully, this abuse is off-screen...but, the boy's derelict face...says it all.

The Painted Bird is a nothing but a scorching and damning indictment on the world as it is today...with modern-day slavery, ecclesiastical paedophilia, this rise of nationalism and the far right, fundamentalist terror, mass migration and fear...it's all in this film and it's all too prevalent now. Really, the question is...what has history taught us? Absolutely nothing.

Once seen...never forgotten. 


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The(ir) Blurb...

A young Jewish boy in Poland seeks refuge in the forest during World War II where he encounters many different characters.

Cast & Characters

Stellan Skarsgard as Hans;
Barry Pepper as Mitka;
Harvey Keitel as Priest;
Julian Sands as Garbos;
Udo Kier as Miller;
Aleksey Kravchenko as Gavrila;
Tim Kalkhof as SS Officer;
Jitka Cvancarova as Ludmila;
Pavel Kriz as Avid man;
Petr Vanek as Nikodem;
Lech Dyblik as Lekh;
Petr Kotlar as A Boy;
Dominik Weber as Luftwaffe Officer;
Filip Kankovsky as Merchant;
Milan Simacek as Mayor;
Ala Sakalova as Olga;
Nina Sunevic as Marta;
Alexander Leopold Schank as SS Officer;
Radim Fiala as Cossack;
Stepan Havlin as Pimp