Otakar Vávra’s fever dream film adaptation of Karel Čapek's second novel.
1924’s Krakatit was Karel Čapek's second novel; remarkably, it anticipated with great perspicacity the horrors of nuclear weapons and warfare – horrors that were no longer the stuff of science fiction by the time of Otakar Vávra’s fever dream film adaptation in 1948.
An unidentified man (Karl Höger – Dirk Bogarde channelling Peter Lorre, perhaps) lies on a hospital bed. As he is treated his mind tries to piece together his own story in flashback through a haze of amnesia and hallucinations. A chemist by vocation, he had in fact invented an unprecedentedly destructive explosive named “krakatite” which had become of great interest to competing powers, powers that had gone to quite some lengths to have him do their nefarious bidding…
Vávra, who enjoyed a career of extraordinary longevity (inclusive of teaching Věra Chytilová and Oscar winners Miloš Forman and Jiří Menzel at the FAMU film school), adapted Krakatit twice; this, his first take, is an extraordinary Cold War sci-fi film noir, its sinister, Expressionist mise-en-scène matched by a doom-laden orchestral score from Jiří Srnka.
– Cerise Howard
Wednesday 16 September 2020
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