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Case for a Rookie Hangman

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Made in the aftermath of the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, Juracek's second and final feature (1969, 102 min.) is a formally audacious political fantasia that transforms the third book of Gulliver's Travels into an allegory on coercion and tyranny. After acquiring a mysterious watch, Lemuel Gulliver (Lubomir Kostelka) plunges into the monarchy of Laputa, a disorienting landscape of oppression and sexual intrigue. Photographed in textured black and white by Jan Kalis, this carries an electric charge of exhilaration and unpredictability, yet Juracek grounds the tense, unstable imagery in a solid emotional story. The movie was banned by the state and ended Juracek's career, yet it stands with Vera Chytilova's Daisies, Ivan Passer's Intimate Lighting, and Milos Forman's The Firemen's Ball as one of the major achievements of the Czech new wave. In Czech with subtitles. Facets Cinematheque.

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