Pictures of the Old World

Inspired by the still photographs of Martin Martinaek, this classic feature documentary is based on the lives of old people living in the remote Liptov and Orava regions of Slovakia. Banned for 16 years, its portrait of peasant life and of people suffering extreme privation provides a sombre and textured world far removed from officially sanctioned folk documentaries. The characters exhibit their own individuality and grandeur and the film’s visual qualities go beyond the merely ‘realist’ to the black and white contrasts of still photography. Eighteen sections with titles such as ‘The Old Bag Piper’ and ‘Old Woman Ringing a Bell’ provide portraits bearing testimony to director Duaan Hanak’s search for inner beauty, wisdom, and freedom.
Czechoslovakia [Slovakia], 1972 [release, 1989]. English subtitles. Black and white. 74 min.

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