Czech Film Links Humanity with Politics

By Valeo, Tom | Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), January 31, 1997 | Go to article overview

Czech Film Links Humanity with Politics


Valeo, Tom, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)


Byline: Tom Valeo Daily Herald Theater Critic

"Koyla"

* * *

Written by Zdenek Sverak. Produced by Eric Abraham and Jan Sverak. Directed by Jan Sverak. Rated PG-13. 118 minutes

Cast:

   Frantisek Louka    Zdenek Sverak
   Andrej Chalimon    Koyla

"Kolya" is a Czech film consisting of two parallel stories that depict the way that cruelty can yield to decency and a deeper humanity.

In one, Frantisek Louka, a talented cellist who has been kicked out of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra for his political views, finds himself the caretaker for a 6-year-old boy named Kolya.

Louka, played by the popular Czech actor Zdenek Sverak, certainly didn't volunteer for this duty. He merely married the boy's Russian mother so she could get Czech papers, and he could get a handsome payment that would allow him to buy a small car.

Immediately after the wedding, the mother uses her new papers to flee to West Germany, where her lover is waiting for her. Then the boy's grandmother, who was taking care of the boy, suffers a stroke, and the paramedics bring Kolya to his "father" - an astonished Louka.

A confirmed bachelor engaged in numerous love affairs with other men's wives, Louka resents this intrusion and tries to find a government agency to take the boy.

After all, he knows nothing about raising children, and he can't even communicate with this one - the boy speaks only Russian.

Gradually, however, Louka warms to his new companion, and discovers his own untapped reservoir of compassion, concern and affection.

Meanwhile, Prague is on the brink of the 1989 Velvet Revolution. Russian soldiers have occupied the city, but the citizens sense that the oppressive Soviet domination of their country is about to end. Miraculously, the massive demonstrations do not end in bloodshed, and the resistance that has kindled for decades among the Czech people catches fire, leading to a free and independent Czech Republic at last. …

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