Da 5 Bloods
On the Record
I May Destroy You
Forgot your password?
Don't have an account? Sign up here
Already have an account? Log in here
and the Terms and Policies,
and to receive email from Rotten Tomatoes and Fandango.
Please enter your email address and we will email you a new password.
We encourage our community to report abusive content and/ or spam. Our team will review flagged items and determine whether or not they meet our community guidelines.
Please choose best explanation for why you are flagging this review.
Thank you for your submission. This post has been submitted for our review.
Sincerely, The Rotten Tomatoes Team
Monday, October 31, 2011
(1968) ...And The Fifth Horseman Is Fear
(In Czechoslovakia with English subtitles)
Almost plotless where the film states the situation without telling a story, but still effective once the viewer hangs onto it about actual oppression and dictatorship felt by an once remowned ex-Jewish doctor, Dr. Braun(Miroslav Machácek) while living in the Nazi invaded town of Czechoslovakia, who eventually regains his identity once asked to perform surgery to save a stranger injured by a gun shot wound! Possesses the same emotions as "The Pawnbroker" starring Rod Steiger!
If watched obliviously without reading the synopsis would make the first half hour hard to get into since it's rather plotless, and was able to tolerate it once I listened to the introduction told by Robert Osbourne of "Turner Classic Movies". Interesting note that the film had to be approved by gov't censors who at the time it was made would not approve the film at all had they known it was about the Czech authorities working alongside with the Nazis!
3 out of 4
Gorgeous classic black and white with rich characters in a fascinating and terrifying predicament. The doctor seems to be constantly covered in raindrops...
I really tried to give this film chance but found myself bored and working on my laptop while passively watching this film. It had too much 1960's in it for me. Some films can transcend time and transport the viewer back to the time period the film is suppose to take place in; this is not one of them.
I did enjoy the few shots of Praha throughout the film; it is a great city I have been lucky enough to visit twice. There are several shots in the movie that are very artistic and I really like.
Roger Ebert called this "a nearly perfect film." I would have to disagree.
A masterpiece. A unique Holocaust story (which is also a commentary on communism in Czechoslovakia). This film puts a shamed and degraded man on display and has him fight to regain his humanity.
"The Fifth Horseman is Fear" was released in 1964 in B&W, and though it was supposed to be a movie about the oppression under Nazi rule in Czechoslovakia during WW II, it was more of an indictment against the oppressive Communist regime of the period.
The movie centers around Dr Braun [Miroslav Hajek],an old Jewish doctor who has been forbidden to practice medicine in Prague under Nazi rule. Instead, he works as a clerk, tasked with the cataloguing confiscated Jewish property such as furniture etc. He lives in an apartment building where he shuns human contact out of fear of being denounced, and his only solace is his violin. The other inhabitants of the building also exhibit symptoms of extreme oppression - a discontented housewife occupies herself with mindless retail therapy, and old woman veers on the edge of madness, fearing the seizure of her pets, and many others who all seem to be exhibiting similar symptoms of paranoia.
Things get even stranger when Dr Braun finds himself having to care for a wounded partisan, concealing him in his own apartment complex as he tries his level best to procure morphine for the wounded man, roaming about the city, experiencing surrealistic events.
As mentioned earlier, this movie may seem like the portrayal of people's fears under the Nazis in Prague, but it is in fact more of an allegory about the suppression of freedom under the communist regime in Czechoslovakia. Some of the anachronisms noted in this movie attest to this.
On the whole, this is an excellent movie and I was glad that it was made available on DVD. But, there is an important scene that has been deleted on this DVD - that of the SS brothel scene. The good doctor wanders around the brothel, encountering strange people, all the while searching for the elusive morphine. The scene has lots of nudity portrayed, but I still wonder why this was censored on the DVD, given that TCM showed the movie in its unexpurgated version? I do hope future releases of this Czech masterpiece will have the film in its entirety. As for special features, there is an onscreen intro by Andrew Horton, a cinenotes collectible booklet, and a scene selection feature.
As I see it there are two problems with this film. The first is the unsettling mix of humour with the holocaust. This objection is so obvious and immediate that I almost wonder if the use of humour works to some subtler end that I have not yet acknowledged. The Czech New Wave (even more than the French New Wave) often mixed humour with politics (specifically, in the case of the Czech, with the liberal politics of the Prague Spring). Here the urgency of the politics is overshadowed by intrusive physical humour and M. Hulot-esque comical desperation. An easy contrast one could make would be with the recent Romanian film 'The Death of Mr. Lazarescu,' which treats its serious topic with sensitivity and a dose of laughter to just the right measure. Just as (unconsciously?) distasteful is the moment a lingering camera turns a shocking scene of Jewish women are used as sex-slaves into something reminiscent of an exploitative brothel scene that would fit well in 'Ilsa, She-Wolf of the SS.'
The second reservation is the attempt to use fascism as a stand-in to criticize communism (a typical move to get by the censors after Prague 68). Implied in this political metaphor is the idea that the evils of fascism, by virtue of being totalitarian, are comparable in every way to the USSR. This important distinction (and the neoliberal attempt to collapse it) deserves a greater treatment than what a film rating can provide, so I turn those interested to Zizek's "The Two Totalitarianisms": http://www.lrb.co.uk/v27/n06/zize01_.html
A story of human interest and connection between people. One risking his life to help another in order to ease his pain. This story is, for lack of a better word, kind of touching. The standout for me is the photography. Some great compositions and framing only enhanced by the black and white film highlighting the strong contrast.
Only my second official movie in my foray into the Czech New Wave genre. Actually a serendipitous find in the library, and I had no idea what I was getting into. Tour de force psychological drama that tells a Holocaust story in a vein not chosen by most movies on the Holocaust, as well as commentary on Communism vs. the Third Reich. I felt full thrust into the paranoia and fear of the narrative. Not a movie for those used to the conventional, but for anyone wanting a masterful telling of such a dark portion of history.
Once upon a time in Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia, when Jews were removed from their professional activities, a Jewish doctor reluctantly accepts the petition of a fellow tenant to heal a political fugitive who has been shot. The moral dilemma that the doctor faces is quite obvious, but no less complicated: his previous profession of medicine had the purpose of saving lives and improving health; nevertheless, with the Nazi occupation, the potential consequences of giving medical assistance to a political fugitive are unmeasurable.
Modern Holocaust films, especially made in the U.S., normally use sensationalist portrayals of physical, psychological and/or emotional abuse against the Jews to accentuate the inhumanity of a world turned upside down. Nevertheless, Europe had a different perspective towards the conflict, equally humane, but with no manipulation and placing in the center of the table even more complex themes to treat amidst chaotic circumstances. The most notorious examples specifically talking about the Czech New Wave were <i>The Shop on Main Street</i> (1965), which embodies the multifaceted perspective of a whole town while placing an unlikely human relationship as a protagonistic element, and Zbynek Brynych's film now being discussed, which was released also in 1965.
As the film progresses, different faces of a torn nation impacted by conflicting forces are shown, which happens during the doctor's hellish search for morphine. Little hope seems to be around seedy joints where local women are forced to be prostitutes for German soldiers, bars, and insane asylums with high suicide rates. But at some point, you also begin to realize, given some clothing styles, furniture and available domestic and medical artifacts, that the film is more probable to take place in the 1960s, turning the whole show unexpectedly into an allegorical representation of the Communist dictatorship through the portrayal of the Nazi regime, becoming the thousandth Czech film that makes references to Communism. The whole show, therefore, is historically hypothetical, but socially politically valid.
Despite its seeming subtlety, <i>...and the Fifth Horseman Is Fear</i>, a title that randomly makes a Biblical speculative reference out of context, is a testament against inhuman circumstances about the exaltation of the human spirit above overwhelming ideals of power and nationalism. Morally, the film actually might be one of the most challenging to see, because it is easy to stand up from the couch feeling that certain scenarios are entirely devoid of hope. Either you support an invasive regime against the lives or well-being of others, or you must pay the terrible price of getting hold of your own definition of "ethics" and "moral". Shot spectacularly like only the 60s managed to do in beautiful Black & White, this is the Holocaust portrayed from a more mature and difficult perspective which reminds us that, as human beings, we make decisions everyday with, unfortunately, incalculable repercussions in any time term.
P.S. It is a pessimistic film, but concluding in a way that invites everybody to the contribution of a better world where we stop creating realities with dead ends.
Watching Zbynek Brynych's The Fifth Horseman is Fear was a welcome relief after viewing Milos Foreman's Loves of a Blond and Black Peter for which all three have been lavished by Western critics to be gems of the Czech New Wave. I found Brynych's film to be the most preferable of the three because it captured my interest from the beginning with its alternation between noisy tram shots and long shots of empty stone staircases in the quit back streets of Prague's old city. The Fifth Horseman also had more of the Italian neorealist feel to it with its sense of desperation of the main character as he tries to obtain morphine sorely need by a wounded partisan. The action in the Fifth Horseman is more acute which to me is preferable to the boring social realism that Forman aims for in his previously mentioned films. Many a critic would have interpreted this film to be a subtle indictment of Soviet Communism but after four decades the quick judgments conditioned by the Cold War may need to be reassessed.