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Mandragora1997

  • 3.7
Sixteen year old Marek (Mirek Caslavka) leaves his dreary small-town life for the beautiful but treacherous streets of Prague, a city where everything can be had for a price. Directed by leading Czech filmmaker Wiktor Grodecki, MANDRAGORA is based on true stories with a mostly non-professional cast (including actual prostitutes) and shot on the streets, train stations and clubs of Prague.

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2 members like this review

According to the dictionary: Mandragora is 1) a plant of nightshade family: a plant with a forked root resembling a human body that was formerly believed to have magical powers and was made into a drug and 2) a 14th century alteration of medieval Latin mandragora, influenced by man, drake "dragon" (from its emetic and narcotic properties) and 3) from mythology, demon. Wiktor Grodecki's masterful film is by any standard, a stirring and gut wrenching example of poverty gone amok. This film is dark, frank, cruel, realistic, and sweats with the evil of the belly of the beast that is Prague's underworld. Yet the direction is so fine and, equally important, the acting by Miroslav Caslavka. Definitely an essential right up their with Larry Clark's 'Kids' and Gus Van Sant's 'My Own Private Idaho'.

Member Reviews (39)

According to the dictionary: Mandragora is 1) a plant of nightshade family: a plant with a forked root resembling a human body that was formerly believed to have magical powers and was made into a drug and 2) a 14th century alteration of medieval Latin mandragora, influenced by man, drake "dragon" (from its emetic and narcotic properties) and 3) from mythology, demon. Wiktor Grodecki's masterful film is by any standard, a stirring and gut wrenching example of poverty gone amok. This film is dark, frank, cruel, realistic, and sweats with the evil of the belly of the beast that is Prague's underworld. Yet the direction is so fine and, equally important, the acting by Miroslav Caslavka. Definitely an essential right up their with Larry Clark's 'Kids' and Gus Van Sant's 'My Own Private Idaho'.

2 members like this review
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top reviewer

If this film is anything like a a true account of the underbelly of Prague's male prostitute scene, then heaven help us! The film is downright bleak, disgusting, tragic, depressing, and endless in duration. Most of the action is over the top. The quality of film suffers from technical glitches and often times a music track that sounds sometimes incongruously religious in nature. The story centers abut a 15-year-old boy who's been raped by his father. He runs away and is immediately swooped up by a crew of nefarious pimps who sell him to an assortment of odd, weird and crazed patrons. Not only is the ending tragic--the entire film is one tragedy after another. Do not watch this if you can't stomach depravity nor the dregs of society.

1 member likes this review
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top reviewer

Pretty well crafted & fine performances from the two lead boys & several supporting players... Mark's father was well played but most of the other "adult's" were on the melodramatic side; especially the various pimps & pornographer. While I stayed with it to the end it was never-the-less a very dark & bleak experience. Without giving away too much, lets just say it ended as it played - to my surprise. not! As difficult as it is to watch - in places, and while I'm sure there are better views of Prague, this production does give a unique and penetrating view of the Country and particularly the historic capital of the Czech Republic.

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top reviewer

Tragic story but all to common. So many beautiful lives lost. I'm so glad I raised my sons in an earlier time.

Movie was well done. Hard to watch but well done.

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top reviewer

I watched this right after I saw Suicide Room, a Polish film. Both films are an indictment of adults, who are so caught up in their own selfish, mean lives, they abrogate responsibility for their own children, who, searching for attention and identity, make some really bad choices. Rather than identify the nexus of those choices the parents negate any hope of redemption for the child by their own lack of insight into their own behavior. The particular movie is deeply disturbing, making it's point via the total absence of tenderness between the characters. Marek loves David, but never knowing affection, doesn't know how to deal with it. Failing that, the film come to the only ending that makes sense.

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top reviewer

No Comment very sad and violent . I did not enjoy this film st all . slavery to scum bags. what happens there happens here. I give this Drama an f.Howard crowe Pittsburgh pa.

Powerfully horrific depiction of the fall into Hell on Earth suffered by youth who are preyed upon in cities--in this case Prague...even though made in 1997, in all likelihood it is a story that is repeated today in most large cities ....difficult to watch but well done in its cinematography and story

Great Dark ARt Film

Beware of the decision that are out there to get innocent souls and the changes that occur and the lucky ones that escape.

This film is exceptional. I was not able to finish watching it as the story is so painful. The acting is good, the production is tight and beautiful. I hope that one day we will not have this kind of vicious inhumane behavior in our cultures.

A very powerful and provocative look into a world of a Hustler. Where value of themselves does not exist. Entertaining, yet exposing what really goes on in several cities around the world. A world where kids can only find employment for a living by selling themselves to exist.

Wow. Very dark. But what would one expect. This is not a subtle film. It is very good, but the subject matter it not for the faint of heart. Film Noir. I wish that Fandor would start getting gay fiolms with possitive conclussions. Not all young eastern europeans live like this.

amazing and sad

sad

Dark and Depressing, predictable and long.

If you like dark movies, I highly recommend this one !

a very realistic view point then and now...

What a powerful story! It's the reason why you must really love your children and let them know each and everyday that they are loved needed and wanted.

this is a movie about what can happen to young boys in the sex trafficking business. Sick.

Intense and tradgic with not a happy ending. The acting was good even though the story was dramaticly cruel.

very intriguing and magnetic. It will hold your interest to the end.

This was a depressing and sad film, I'm sure there are many kids that succumb to this and its ugliness.

sad ,for these but true life for these young boys

Tragic story but unfortuntly usually true. Good production and acting was fair to good. Nice looking young men but this side of male hustling was quite sad.

Great story, but very depresing.Why do most Gay themed films always have to have sad endings? Well worth watching though.

Excellent story and acting. Depressing but real. Worth watching.

Great tale, if not a bit slow throughout the whole movie..

A very depressing film. Wonder why this was made. What was the point? To encourage these young boys to prostitute themselves into drugs? Did like the acting but not the film.

good story line,,, excellent

I really enjoyed this film, Watching Marek end up on the streets of Prague and ultimately eaten up and devoured had me on the edge of my seat. The ending scene was the most touching to me as his father who is searching high and low for his son is just steps away in a bathroom stall dying. This was an emotional ending for me. I love this type of drama and found this movie to be well presented and on topic. It does show the horrors one can expect on the streets of any large metropolis. Coming from New York, I was able to associate with this film.

This movie made me think about all the illegal trade, which causes and allows human exploitation wehn some one indulges him or herself with a small pleasure. The film is not so beautifull, not so peacefull enjoyable, however i wanted to finish the story; many subthemes: parenting, corruption and yes, it can happen / happens here or every where, evil is as human as kindness, as well are the miths of Mandragora

very sad, and no ending that makes you feel good at all, my heartbwas broken

Disturbing but gripping, well acted and directed from start to finish... a must see film!!

Very interesting but tragic story. I give it 3.5 stars for the boldness of telling this tale. Marek is a character that you can care about. David less so, but he drives the action that carries Marek along. Overall the acting is mediocre. For a movie about prostitutes, it has surprisingly little sex, but (perhaps not surprisingly) a lot of violence. The make-up for blood and bruises made me wonder if it was just really, really bad make-up work or a deliberate exaggeration, like expressionistic art. By the end I concluded it was a mix of the two but that the expressionistic aspect was deliberate. The film is a little long, but in the end it effectively tells the story of the male prostitution business in Prag. It is a haunting story that contrasts sharply with the blond, always smiling boys used to advertise gay Czech porn flicks.

it was very informative, however it very disturbing how these poor boys are taken advantage

Interesting but no happy endings! Grotesque scenes are in this movie.

not good

Couldnt survive what they went through.