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Slovak Studies Program

Martin Votruba


Native Country



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Instead of socialism, Socialist Realism demanded endorsement of the communist regime; instead of realism, it mandated depiction of life as it was supposed to be according to its propagandists. Native Country (Rodná zem, dir. Josef Mach, 1953; avaiable without subtitles in Hillman Library) was particularly successful in dressing up the Socialist Realist principle in a massively folkloric configuration. While land is being forcefully taken away from farmers outside the film studios, the elated tractor driver Žofka (Margita Dalmadyová) cruises on the screen through a field of radiant sunflowers, followed by equally rhapsodic farmers all of whom sing a make-believe folk tune that welcomes the advent of farm machines to ease their lives. The special appeal of the folkloric ingredient made it stand out among the customarily dreary Socialist Realist productions, Native Country became the most popular film of the highly repressive 1950s.


Slovak cinema after World War II.


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