In the aftermath of 1968’s Prague Spring, the Soviet and Warsaw Pact invasion caused the film to be banned for over 20 years until the fall of the Communist regime. Director Jiri Menzel saw the plight of the oppressed, and made this heartwarming comedy filled with hope. Adapted from Czech writer Bohumil Hrabal’s short stories, a group of “bourgeois suspects” are sent to work in a junkyard for “rehabilitation” in 1950s Czechoslovakia. On the other side of the junkyard, a group of “anti-revolutionary” female prisoners are serving their sentence. The dirty rags on these “enemies of the party” have done nothing to dampen the men’s interest. Sex, love, benevolence, and pursuit of liberty are part of their human nature that cannot be diminished by any punishment. Compared to Menzel’s previous film, Closely Watched Trains (1968), the narrative style of Larks on a String is more straightforward while maintaining the Czech auteur’s trademark humanity.
1938年於布拉格出生，2020年因感染新冠肺炎於同地逝世。與其他新浪潮導演一樣畢業於捷克電影電視學院（FAMU），拍攝首作Pearls of the Deep（1965）中的短片 《巴泰沙之死》前曾擔任同窗齊媞洛娃之助手。執導勇奪奧斯卡最佳外語片的《嚴密監視的列車》（1966）時年僅27歲。其後在《夏日狂想曲》（1967）和《罪惡夜總會》（1968）繼續透過荒誕幽默反映黑暗現實。69年的 《繩上的雲雀》雖被官方列為禁片，但極權倒台後重新上映，最終榮獲1990年柏林影展金熊獎。曼素擅於改編文學作品，曾六次將捷克著名作家赫拉巴爾的作品搬上大銀幕，更多次與他本人合作。電影創作以外，曼素不但活躍於劇場，亦曾參與大大小小的影視演出。
Jiří Menzel was born in 1938, in Prague, and passed away in his hometown in 2020 due to COVID-19. Along with his other peers from the Czech New Wave, he too, was educated at FAMU. Before making his directorial debut in 1965 with his episode in Pearls of the Deep (1965), he assisted the production of his schoolmate, Chytilová’s Something Different in 1963. Closely Watched Trains (1966), which won him the Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards, was his first feature and was completed when he was merely 27 years old. His subsequent works, Capricious Summer (1968) and Crime in the Night Club (1968) are also acknowledged as the classics of the New Wave Movement for his clever interplay between subversive humour and social critiques. Although Larks on a String (1969) was banned by the authorities immediately, it was at last released after the fall of communism and was awarded the Golden Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival 20 years later. As a director, Menzel is known for his deftness in literature adaptation. He has frequently collaborated with Czech writer Bohumil Hrabal and adapted his works for 6 times in his life. Aside from cinematic productions, he also led a fruitful career in the theatrical industry, as well as devoting himself to acting and teaching.