- English subtitles
The Catholic Church is having a hard time in Czechoslovakia in the early 1980s. The communist regime threatens to crush it unless it submits to strict control and accepts restrictions on freedom of belief and expression.
This is the context in which young seminarians Michal and Juraj have to decide whether to remain faithful to their vocation and idealism or to bow to pressure from the secret police. Ostrochovský has created an austere, overwhelming black-and-white work in which he artfully contrasts the pallor of marble, plaster and faces with the darkness of the night and the black cassocks. A frosty film noir in which, just a few years before the collapse of the totalitarian system, the forces of history and the servants of two powers and two belief systems collide.
Ostrochovský’s stark drama of a seminary’s struggles for religious independence under Communist rule is both beautiful and brutal. – British Film Institute