“Larks on a String” Is No Mere Lark

The 1969 Jiri Menzel film from Czechoslovakia, “Larks on a String,” which I saw on Amazon Prime, is a work of sad, anti-Communist satire and comic humanism. In tone it resembles Menzel’s “Closely Watched Trains,” both films based on novels by Bohumil Hrabal.

“Larks” concerns the limited worth of thought and ideas and the withering of spiritual values in a totalitarian society. (Intellectuals here are working in a junkyard.) It reveals the Red glorification of work being turned into a religion. An example of the satire is the sequence with a Communist trustee (Rudolf Hrusinsky) who clearly believes in the “new man.” He charitably washes the faces of underprivileged children before slipping into a flat wherein he contentedly bathes a young gypsy woman’s bosom and ass. The new man?

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