International films Fall into rank

Divided We Fall (Czech)

Directed by Jan Hrebejk

(Boleslav Polivka, Csongor Kassai, Jaroslav Dusek, Anna Sisková)

In Czech and German w/ English subtitles

Rated: PG13

It wasn’t a good year to be a foreign film in America. Granted, it’s never a good year to be a foreign film in America, but this year was especially rough. This year, the juggernaut that was Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon struck a chord with the popcorn chomping, soda slurping masses, thus casting an even deeper shadow on many worthwhile international films, all but eliminating any chance they may have had for Oscar’s recognition.

Divided We Fall, which did garner an Oscar nomination, is one such film. With its timeless themes of loyalty and morality, and its intensely lucid biblical allusions, this film is an argument against those who traditionally abhor subtitled pictures. You know the type. “I don’t go to the movies to read,” is their justification, after which they quickly return to watching professional wrestling and voting Republican.

This film is worth the literary effort. Divided We Fall chronicles life in a small Czech town occupied by Nazi forces during WWII. The film’s main characters, Josef (Boleslav Polivka) and Marie (Anna Sisková) are a childless couple who take in an escaped Jew, Anne Frank style, named David (Csonger Kassai). The prospect of housing David is made even more perilous by the character of Horst (Jaroslav Dusek), a Nazi collaborator and former colleague who often drops by the house unannounced.

The plot is further complicated by Horst’s attraction to Marie, Josef and Marie’s inability to have children and the eventual need for the couple to become pregnant to avoid detection. What results is a sort of Immaculate Conception by Marie (New Testament anyone?), impregnated by David and even watched over by a twentieth century version of the Three Wise Men.

The film’s other main biblical allusion is that of David vs. Goliath. David in this case played by the one single Jew up against the Goliath of Nazism, which leaves only one question. Can this film, representing David, conquer the Goliath that is the American public’s aversion towards heady, international pictures?

-Christopher Yocum