PICTURES OF THE OLD WORLD is brutal.
Honestly, I could have filled this post with nothing but screenshots from this amazing, beautiful, tender and staggeringly bleak film.
Shot in 1972 by Dusan Hanak and banned by the Czech government for its unrelenting documenting of grim rural poverty, this luminous restoration by Second Run DVD is a revelation. Often heartbreaking, sometimes charming – the toothless old man obsessed with the 1969 moon landing, who stuffs his jacket with related clippings, carefully taking them out and reading them with a magnifying glass, telling the camera all the Apollo trivia he knows like a lonely child eager to finally find an audience.
Parts of this film could have been shot in the late Middle Ages. This is what back-to-the-land waiting-for-death uncivilisation looks like. Pain, damage, unmitigated age, a man who’s literally lived on his knees for twenty-five years like an extra from HARD TO BE A GOD, and, over and over again, I repeat, waiting for death.