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also known as Horící ker

Burning Bush 2013

  • 4.5
Agnieszka Holland is an extraordinarily gifted and versatile filmmaker and although the events depicted in BURNING BUSH occurred forty-five years ago, the issues it explores are entirely relevant today. Acclaimed director Agnieszka Holland returns to a pivotal time in modern Czech history: the shocking act of a student of the Charles University's Faculty of Arts, who in protest of the Soviet occupation, set himself on fire in Prague's Wenceslas Square on the 16th of January in 1969 and died four days later. Through the story of the brave defense attorney Dagmar Buresova, who defended Jan Palach's legacy in a doomed lawsuit, the film examines the transformations taking place in Czechoslovak society after the invasion of the armies of the Warsaw Pact in August of 1968. It depicts the beginnings of Czech and Slovak resistance against the occupation, which reached its apex with the mass protests during Palach's funeral. It also shows the nation's gradual resignation under the pressure of fear and harsher persecution.

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"A compelling slice of history. A taut, nuanced work.” - Alissa Simon, Variety


3 members like this review

Polish film director Agneiszka Holland works best with very little studio interference, as her marvelous In Darkness illustrates. But with Burning Bush, she surpasses even her latest triumphs. It's simply the most profound of political films-a masterpiece on many levels - Its overall concept, its brilliant acting, its stunning shaping of scenes and events, but most of all is sharp etching of character and its reflection of emotional depth. It also has an enormously effective music score, showing how silence, and just enough music can elevate a film.

Reflecting the same government opression as the German film, The Lives of Others, this film goes a lot further and is far more passionate. The scenes of protest and violence are riveting and exciting, but the determination of a few people to pursue justice in the face of overwhelming odds is galvainzing.

Yes, it's long, so plan to spend a couple of evenings. You can't do yourself a bigger favor....here's an important, vital masterpiece you need to treat yourself to.

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top reviewer

Member Reviews (7)

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top reviewer

Polish film director Agneiszka Holland works best with very little studio interference, as her marvelous In Darkness illustrates. But with Burning Bush, she surpasses even her latest triumphs. It's simply the most profound of political films-a masterpiece on many levels - Its overall concept, its brilliant acting, its stunning shaping of scenes and events, but most of all is sharp etching of character and its reflection of emotional depth. It also has an enormously effective music score, showing how silence, and just enough music can elevate a film.

Reflecting the same government opression as the German film, The Lives of Others, this film goes a lot further and is far more passionate. The scenes of protest and violence are riveting and exciting, but the determination of a few people to pursue justice in the face of overwhelming odds is galvainzing.

Yes, it's long, so plan to spend a couple of evenings. You can't do yourself a bigger favor....here's an important, vital masterpiece you need to treat yourself to.

3 members like this review

Saw the first 160 minutes at Film Forum. Now hoping to get into Kandor to see the rest. It's brilliant. Brilliantly acted and directed. And who could do it better than a Polish director? The Poles have more experience with police oppression than anyone else and they make art of it!

2 members like this review
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top reviewer

Brilliantly written and performed account of the way a police state warps every facet of a society. Truth and justice can be destroyed so easily.

1 member likes this review
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top reviewer

Agnieszka Holland's Burning Bush (2013) is a first rate dramatic production with a solid screenplay, great acting by the whole cast, great direction, and great cinematography.

No "implied message" or esoteric symbolism was necessary here, because the literal, historical storyline had it all up front in spades.

I read the Wiki article about Czech Jan Palach, and this historical docudrama hit all the salient historical points about this brave young patriot's dramatic self sacrifice and its aftermath. Obviously this screenplay stretched quite a bit to fill in the historical details with contrived dramatic scenes, but I myself detected no unreal embellishments or exaggerations relating to the basic historical facts. This film was very realistic and the screenwriter obviously felt that the simple, literal story of Jan Palach was just good enough to sell itself.

Overall, this film is a very engaging and compelling drama about the Czech people's enduring struggles in the face of the invasion of their country by Soviet troops in 1968, and the severe Soviet repression in its aftermath.

This dramatic production was originally a three segment made for TV mini-series that was strung together here as a continuous 4+ hour film. But the drama is so riveting and compelling that the time just flew by.

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top reviewer

It was an interesting movie, and overall, quite a good one. I had a little trouble keeping track of the characters, and you should know that both lawyers and doctors are called Dr. (It took me over half the movie to figure that out.) I am still not sure if the police characters were the Czechs trying to keep the situation under control so the Russians would have no excuse to step in, or whether the police were working with the Russians.

Brilliant Film about a world rarely examined on film, the Soviet Union, the revolt, in the 1980's over the Czech republic, an absolute must see.

Excellent.

 

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