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Shades of Fern 1986

Based on the only extensive prose work by the surrealist painter Josef Capek, Shades of Fern most resembles the philosophical fairy tales and fables of Josef’s older brother, the legendary Czech novelist and playwright Karel Capek. Two young poachers, more boys than men, kill a gamekeeper when they are caught illegally hunting. Panicked, they retreat into a forest that grows steadily more forbidding and deadly as their fear for the future—and guilt over their action—mounts. Loosely based on hundreds of oral folk tales and legends that haunt the woods of Czechoslovakia, Vlácil’s contemporary updating artistically underscores the relationship between man and nature, crime and punishment, isolation and society, and guilt and memory.

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