DVD Review – Birds, Orphans and Fools (1969)

Birds-Orphans-and-Fools-Second-Run

Birds, Bees Orphans and Fools is a Slovakian 60s oddity. The director Juraj Jakubisko came from the famous Czech film school but this film is much more surreal in nature than that of his fellow pupils. It takes its influence from the French New Wave of Jean-Luc Godard and François Truffaut but also the gleeful surrealism of Luis Buñuel and Federico Fellini.

It’s about a ménage a trois between three dreamers-Andrej (Phillippe Avron), his friend Yoric (Jirí Sýkora) and Marta (Magda Vásáryová) in a nightmarish dystopian world, and the world the film is set in is an obvious stand in for the communist rule of Slovakia. The film shares some of the anarchy of Daisies but lacks its off the wall experimental nature, and it just isn’t as fun to watch. It also shares some of the self-consciousness of radicalised Godard of the late 60s. The third wall is broken a few times with the film crew being deliberately visible and the director speaking directly to the viewer.

The film, like so many Czech or Slovak films, was suppressed under the communist rule. It’s not hard to see why from the beginning with the bisexuality of Yoric, which is never really mentioned again in the film. In this strange scene he seems to pick up a young boy and asks “are you a boy or girl?” and eventually just says “it doesn’t matter”. The last act could be seen as an attempt for Yoric to reconnect with his possible lover Andrej. Juraj Jakubisko wasn’t able to direct a film again until 1979 after the film was denounced.

Overall Birds, Bees Orphans and Fools is a fascinating piece of Slovakian New Wave that will puzzle and confuse viewers in the best possible way. It might not completely work at times, but it is certainly more intriguing than most other films. It also includes a lengthy booklet by Peter Hames who is Second Run’s go-to expert on Central European cinema.

***1/2 Stars (out of 5)
Ian Schultz

Genre:
Comedy, Drama, Fanatsy, World Cinema
Distributor:
Second Run
Rating: 15
DVD Release Date:
23rd June 2014 (UK)
Running Time: 78 Minutes
Director:
Juraj Jakubisko
Cast:
Philippe Avron, Jirí Sýkora, Magda Vásáryová, Vtackovia
Buy:Birds, Orphans and Fools [DVD]

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