Films: Jan Saudek: Trapped by His Passions, No Hope for Rescue

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Jan Saudek: Trapped by His Passions, No Hope for Rescue  {Jan Saudek: V Pekle Svých Vášní, Ráj v Nedohlednu}

Jan Saudek: Trapped by His Passions, No Hope for Rescue
Jan Saudek: V Pekle Svých Vášní, Ráj v Nedohlednu

Czech Republic, 2008, 93 Minute Running Time
Genre/Subjects: Art, Documentary, Educational, Foreign
Program: Documentary Films
Language: Czech English Subtitles

DIRECTOR: Adolf Zika
Producer: Adolf Zika, (executive) Stanislava Zikova
Editor: Bob Sean Clark
Screenwriter: Adolf Zika
Cinematographer: Adolf Zika
Principal Cast: Jan Saudek, Adolf Zika, Sara Saudkova, Johana Saudkova, Samuel Saudek

Jan Saudek, Czechoslovakia’s most famous living photographer, is the subject of this often-shocking kaleidoscopic biopic by friend and colleague Adolf Zika. With an unblinking eye, Zika chronicles the drama-filled life and work of a controversial artist who, though little-known in the United States, has enjoyed international acclaim throughout his fifty-year career.

Saudek’s hand-painted, sepia-toned portraits have a nineteenth-century veneer but a decidedly postmodern sensibility. Shooting his models both clothed and unclothed, he captures now moments of exhilarating grace, now bizarrely explicit—critics might say prurient—tableaux: A woman in a filmy white gown leads two naked girls into a grim industrial landscape. A haloed baby peers with startlement over the brawny shoulders of a naked man. A nude contortionist makes like a flesh pretzel, squatting at the feet of a clothed man in an armchair. Three women dressed like bawdy-house habituées play musical instruments in one image, then appear naked, their expressions giddy and their instruments at rest, in a companion piece.

Shifting visual styles serve the story: color film reflects biographical fact, while black and white seeks to convey the artist’s inner life. But it is the candid, catch-as-catch-can footage of Saudek in his studio, full of ideals and illusions, happiness and loneliness, that reveals the genius as he emerges from behind the lens. Well-known in his own right as a fashion and commercial photographer, Zika has featured his work everywhere from Playboy to the Louvre; Jan Saudek: Trapped by His Passions, No Hope for Rescue is his feature debut.

Sponsor:

Meininger Art Supply

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