(Loves of a Blonde)
Director: Miloš Forman
Production: Barrandov Film Studio for Ceskoslovensky Film; black and white, 35mm; length: 2915 metres. Released November 1965. Prague. Filmed 1965 in Zruč and Sázavou, Czechoslovakia.
Producer: Rudolf Hajek; screenplay: Jaroslav Papousěk, Ivan Passer, Miloš Forman, and Václav Sašek; assistant director: Ivan Passer; photography: Miroslav Ondříček; editor: Miroslav Hájek; sound: Adolf Böhm; art director: Karel Cerný; music: Evžen Illin.
Cast: Hana Brejchová ( Andula ); Vladimir Pucholt ( Milda ); Vladimir Menšík ( Vacovský ); Ivan Kheil ( Maňas ); Jiří Hrubý ( Burda ); Milada Ježková ( Milda's mother ); Josef Sebáek ( Milda's father ); Marie Salačová ( Marie ); Jana Nováková ( Jana ); Jana Crkalová ( Jaruška ); Zdeňka Lorencová ( Zdena ); Táňa Zelinkaová ( Girl ); Jan Vostreil ( Colonel ); Josef Kolb ( Prkorný ); Antonin Blažejovský ( Tonda ); M. Zedníčková ( Educator ).
Award: Venice Film Festival, Prize of CIDALAC, 1965.
Forman, Milos, and others " Lasky Jedne Plavovlasky, " in Avant-Scène du Cinéma (Paris), no. 60, 1966.
Forman, Milos, Turnaround: A Memoir , New York, 1996.
Byrge, Duane, Private Screenings: Insiders Share a Century of Great Movie Moments , Collingdale, 1999.
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Whyte, Alistair, New Cinema in Eastern Europe , New York, 1971.
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Forman, Miloš, Turnaround: A Memoir , with Jan Novak, New York, 1994.
Janouseek, J., in Film a Doba (Prague), no. 5, 1965.
Dyer, Peter John, "Star-Crossed in Prague," in Sight and Sound (London), Winter 1965–66.
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Blue, James, and Gianfranco de Bosio, interview with Milos Forman, in Cahiers du Cinema in English (New York), February 1967.
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Polt, Harriet, "Getting the Great 10%," in Film Comment (New York), Fall 1970.
Conaway, James, "Miloš Forman's America is Like Kafka's— Basically Comic," in New York Times Magazine , 11 July 1971.
Gow, Gordon, "A Czech in New York: An Interview with Miloš Forman," in Films and Filming (London), September 1971.
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Földes, A., "Idotálló kérdések," in Filmkultura (Budapest), vol. 15, no. 5, September-October 1979.
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* * *
The heroes of Miloš Forman's first films are quite ordinary young people, like most of the young people in the world. They do not stand out; they are not too good and not too bad, not particularly clever, but not particularly stupid either. In Konkurs (The Competition) they are girls who long to sing in the popular theater of Prague but are incapable of assessing their own abilities. In Cerny Petr (Black Peter) the hero is a young man who is learning to be a salesman because he has no precise goals in life. In Loves of a Blonde the central figures are young women who work in a shoe factory. All they want is a little happiness and a nice romantic love. Forman systematically chooses these non-heroic heroes for his films; he is interested precisely in the kind of people who will never be astronauts, outstanding scientists, actors or professional singers. In his opinion, they, too, are worthy of filmmakers' attention. This is the underlying premise of his early films, which derive their form from it, a form obviously different from traditional cinema not only in its conception of the hero but also in its distinct type of narrative. In these films Forman builds his style on the conviction that the most ordinary banalities of life contain more drama and more truth than the carefully elaborated form of a classically developed drama.
It is such everyday banalities that constitute the simple action of Loves of a Blonde . Its heroine, the young girl Andula, longs for love. She tries to find it with several men she happens to meet in her neighborhood. But she finds true love—or so she thinks—only after meeting a pianist from Prague. After a few beautiful moments, however, disappointment sets in, and Andula must once again content herself with her dreams. Her story, this slice of her life, is based on a linear succession of episodic situations with no gradations whatsoever. The director then develops these situations before the camera, and it is the viewer who combines them into a mosaic that has narrative value. Forman first took up filmmaking with a documentary bent; his quest for drama and truth in his films' characters in banal situations therefore has, to a certain extent, the nature of a documentary record. He follows his heroine and her comrades during their conversations at boarding school, at work in the factory, at a dance party, in talks with parents, and at meetings. The camera jumps from one face to another, fixing on them in an attempt to catch those imperceptible signs of inner feelings—boredom, longing, sadness, bitterness. The indifferent gaze of the camera could have a cruel effect, but it is softened by Forman's spontaneous sense of humor, which flows from the recognition that the most tragic occurrence, experienced and examined from without—and Forman looks at it with the same distance as the viewer—has comic and grotesque aspects. He finds and reveals the comedy in every situation involving the worker Andula, and even makes it the foundation of a love scene in which malfunctioning blinds undercut the significance Andula attaches to her feelings in her relationship with the pianist. However, Forman's humor is not malicious. He observes his heroes without ridiculing them, with kind sympathy and with the conviction that through laughter there is always a greater hope of penetratin beneath the surface of things. But he does not stop at the level of humorous portrayal. Through intimately familiar detail he brings the viewer to an understanding of the more general essence of the situations he depicts. And this essence is neither banal nor sentimental. Against the background of everyday activity, with all its comic situations, there is the weighty social problem of the isolated life of young women working in a remote Bohemian town where there are no opportunities to find acquaintances or love, resulting in the playing out of their emotional lives in cheap, demeaning short-term affairs. Ultimately, despite all the film's lighter moments, the viewer is left with a slight sense of sadness and bitterness.
Forman embarks on his subjects and themes with a thorough knowledge of the matter at hand; the life of the young women factory workers is depicted without the slightest artificiality. A contributing factor is the measured guidance of the actors, which makes one forget that, except for a few professionals, most of the actors had never been in front of a camera before. Another virtue of Forman's films of this period is the lively dialog, which becomes a vital element for enhancing the verisimilitude of the film situations.
In the history of Czechoslovak cinematography Forman's films represent a new achievement, from the standpoint of the choice of theme and content as well as techniques of expression. They have signaled a deviation from previous filmmaking and the start of a new course.