Is it fare to live without love

Jiri Menzel dies: With "Liebe nach Timetable" he won the Oscar

The Czech film legend Jiri Menzel is dead. The Oscar winner set small peaks in socialist Czechoslovakia - and received most of the recognition only after the fall of the Wall.

The subtle humor of his films was interpreted in socialist Czechoslovakia as an accusation against the omnipresent bureaucracy: In 1968 the tragic comedy "Liebe nach Timetable" by Jiri Menzel, which plays at a small train station during the German occupation, won an Oscar. In particular, the scene in which a transport service provider put the railway stamp on a young girl's bare bottom was remembered - also as a provocation in prudish times. As his wife Olga announced on Facebook, the Czech theater and film director Jiri Menzel has now died at the age of 82.

When Menzel received the Oscar in 1968, he had been a prominent representative of the new wave of Czechoslovak film, which was primarily characterized by its joy in experimentation: improvised dialogues, the cast of amateur actors and a portion of black humor were part of it the stylistic devices that sharply demarcated the New Wave from the socialist development film. Artistic freedom came to an abrupt end with the invasion of the Warsaw Pact troops - and the crushing of the Prague Spring.

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Jiri Menzel had to experience this first hand: in 1969 he completed his film "Lerchen am Faden" - but the government's criticism of the prevailing conditions went too far. Therefore the work had to wait 20 years for its publication. The reward came after the fall of the Berlin Wall: He subsequently received the Berlinale Golden Bear for his political satire. He was also active in front of the camera: in the 80s he appeared as an actor in German and Hungarian films. "The films we made in the 1960s are a thing of the past. The viewer has changed, and I can no longer fully follow them," said Menzel in one of his last interviews about cinema.

His Oscar success "Love According to the Schedule" is not the only film based on a literature by the writer Bohumil Hrabal, whom he admires. In addition to other books - including the aforementioned "Lerchen am Faden", he also filmed its novel "I served the English King" in 2006 - the German Julia Jentsch was cast in a leading role. For critics, this film was nothing less than the "conclusion of a masterly life's work".

Shortly after the filming of the film "Dolmetscher", in which he played a leading role, he fell seriously ill. At the end of 2017, he had to spend several months in the hospital after an operation, but he never fully recovered from it. His wife, a film producer, described her husband as the "bravest of the brave" at the time. For the last few years he lived in seclusion with his family in Prague, where he was born and now also died.


Source: teleschau - der mediendienst GmbH