Dark Blue World

on December 28, 2001 by Barbara Goslawski
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   Set during World War II and the years immediately following, "Dark Blue World" creates a rich tapestry of the familiar and the phenomenal. In "Dark Blue World," his first film since the Academy Award-winning "Kolya," director Jan Svêrák once again affirms his status as a master humanist, elegantly evoking a complex range of emotions, be it falling in love for the first time or the immediate proximity of death.

   "Dark Blue World" follows the plight of Czechoslovakian Lieutenant Franta, an ace pilot who, along with many others, escapes to England to join the RAF when his country is occupied by the Nazis. Much to their surprise, however, these heroes return home after the war only to be imprisoned by the Soviets, who now control the country and clamp down on any hint of rebellion.

   Svêrák discriminatingly weaves together these two separate eras, providing each with its own visual style. As they echo and inform each other, Svêrák conjures a fertile interplay of passions and circumstances.

   "Dark Blue World's" focus becomes the deep bonds forged by these pilots during the war--not merely out of a sense of nationalism, but out of the daily dangers they face together. All is not so simple, however, as this bond between Franta and his best friend Karel is tested by an act of betrayal. This is a difficult yet deftly rendered section of the film, one in which Svêrák reveals the multi-faceted nature of human emotion--how love and hate are often not mutually exclusive.

   Svêrák 's understated yet luscious style drives the film and brilliantly displays his ability to evoke strong emotions without succumbing to sentimentality. In war, these men face death daily but, under Svêrák 's meticulous guidance, added passions such as love and treachery serve to enliven these already familiar war story standards. Starring Ondrej Vetchy, Krystof Hadek and Tara Fitzgerald. Directed by Jan Svêrák. Written by Zdenek Svêrák. Produced by Eric Abraham and Jan Svêrák. A Sony Pictures Classics release. Drama. Rated R for sexuality/nudity. Running time: 114 min

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