Sunday, 27 January 2013

Hostinec U Kamenného stolu ("The Stone Table Inn", 1948)

Back when I was writing my posts for the Going Through the Eras event, I wanted to write about this film; it's definitely my favourite 1940s film, and one of my favourite films of all times.
But it's quite impossible to capture its awesomeness while tellling it in English.
Based on a book by Karel Poláček, one of the great writers of the interwar era (the book was written during the war, and published under his friend's name, because Poláček was Jewish), it contains colourful characters and fantastic humour that works with language to such an extent that I can't translate it. At. All. It's not just word play; it uses every advantage you can gain from speaking Czech, using formal and functional features of Czech that do not exist in English.
So that's why I only show you pictures, a poor substitute for the real awesomeness. I tried telling some of the story back then, but soon realised that it only sounded weird when I tried to capture the fun without being able to convey its true nature...
It's the last great old comedy, with great actors old and young. It has all the perks of 1930s-1940s comedies, without being plagued by the era's somewhat weaker spots. No comedy of errors and mistaken identities (my personal pet peeve with the era). Both the way it is shot and the story seem more natural than most of the earlier films I've seen: more of it is shot on location, and the outrageous things that happen feel rather like character quirks taken to the extreme than like plot devices.




























































Let me just say this for the story: this film also contains what I think is the best love confession in the history of cinema. Superbly delivered by Rudolf Hrušínský, who I think was the best actor in the history of Czech cinema.







8 comments:

  1. You make me very sorry I don't know Czech; but since I had such a hard trying to learn Polish, I won't even attempt it. But it looks good - I love movies from the thirties and forties.

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    1. Well, parts of it would certainly be enjoyable in English as well; but that love confession is not one of those parts...

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  2. Is it possible to find this film with English subtitles? It looks good.

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    1. I cannot find the DVD now, but this site says yes:
      http://www.bontonland.cz/hostinec-u-kamenneho-stolu/
      Though apparently only from Czech sites. At least this company should hopefully be reliable, though I have no idea whether they ship to the USA.

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  3. Too bad I don't know Czech! It looks delightful. :)

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    Replies
    1. I really wish it were more... transferrable. :-)

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  4. Replies
    1. Sadly, these DVDs of old Czech films usually don't...

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