Review: ‘Battle For Life’

Firemen aren't the only folks having a ball in "Battle for Life," a cheerfully surreal yet endearingly funny stroll through a year in the life of a remote mountain village. Too resolutely eccentric for much theatrical play, this anthropologically stylized item is a good fit for specialized fests and tube dates.

Firemen aren’t the only folks having a ball in “Battle for Life,” a cheerfully surreal yet endearingly funny stroll through a year in the life of a remote mountain village. Too resolutely eccentric for much theatrical play, this anthropologically stylized item is a good fit for specialized fests and tube dates.

As deeply patriotic and bracingly self-deprecating as Czechs themselves, pic wanders among various factions in and around the economically besieged but fun-loving burg of Bystre in the Orlicke mountains, way northeast of Prague. Events observed include the recreation of a WWII battle that took place in a neighboring village, a satirical May Day parade and some elaborately bawdy amateur theatrics. These are interspersed with personal reminiscences and townsfolk reading true-life passages from the town’s community chronicles, which hint at more strife than locals let on. If pic has a star, it’s homely yet hard-partying senior citizen Marie Ptackova, embodiment of town’s unofficial motto “Bystre Is Paradise.” A frenzied final montage is fittingly set to Kander & Ebb’s tune “Tomorrow Belongs to Me,” from “Cabaret.” Tech credits are workmanlike for the form.

Battle For Life

Czech Republic

Production

A Verbascum/Czech TV production. (International sales: Telexport Czech TV, Prague.) Produced by Richard Nemec, Anna Beckova. Directed, written by Miroslav Janek, Vit Janacek, Roman Vavra.

Crew

Camera (color), Janek, Janacek, Vavra; editor, Tonicka Jankova. Reviewed on videocassette, Wheaton, Md., June 21, 2001. (In Karlovy Vary Film Festival -- documentary competition.) Original title: Bitva o zivot. Running time: 88 MIN.
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