Review: ‘The Second Life of Lidice’

Legacy of Czech town burned to the ground in 1942 as retaliation against the assassination of Nazi "protector" Reinhard Heydrich is revisited in "The Second Life of Lidice." Footage from Humphrey Jennings' rarely-seen Welsh-shot re-enactment of the tragedy, "The Silent Village," is intercut with filmmakers' contempo visits to both burgs.

Legacy of Czech town burned to the ground in 1942 as retaliation against the assassination of Nazi “protector” Reinhard Heydrich is revisited in “The Second Life of Lidice.” Footage from Brit documaker Humphrey Jennings’ rarely-seen, Welsh-shot re-enactment of the tragedy, “The Silent Village,” is intercut with filmmakers’ contempo visits to both burgs. Pic’s most likely life is on the small screen.

It was Eleanor Roosevelt who said, “None of us will ever forget a little town named Lidice” — at one point this village southwest of Prague was synonymous with Nazi atrocities. As retribution for Czech patriots killing Heydrich, the town’s men were killed, the village destroyed and the women and children deported (only 17 of 105 youngsters survived). Jennings’ 1943 film recasts the atrocity in the Swansea Valley mining village of Cwmgiedd, where helmers Pavel Stingl and David Vaughan travel to chat with those who remember the production. Tech credits are fine, but docu would have benefited by spending more time in rebuilt Lidice and less in Wales. Jennings made “Silent Village” following his landmark feature-length docu on the London Blitz, “Fires Were Started.”

The Second Life of Lidice

Czech Republic

Production

A Czech TV, K2 production. Directed, written by Pavel Stingl, David Vaughan.

Crew

Camera (color/B&W, Betacam), Marek Tichy; editor, Lenka Polesna. Reviewed at Finale Pilsen Film Festival (competing), April 2, 2003. Czech, English, German, Slovak dialogue. Running time: 57 MIN.
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