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Slovak Studies Program

Martin Votruba


The Garden







With traditional cinematography and editing, relatively monochrome mise-en-scène, and an unphotogenic location, the sequence in the clip is driven by the story. Jakub (Roman Luknár), having given up on life in the city, tries to make his ancestors' long-abandoned farm house habitable again when a stranger, Helena (Zuzana Šulajová), enters the garden and story.
A characteristic theme of the films that director Martin Šulík (b. 1962) made in the 1990s was the “return to nature.” The Garden (Záhrada, 1995; available with subtitles in Hillman Library) – as well as his earlier Tenderness (Neha, 1991; available with subtitles in Hillman Library) and the subsequent Orbis Pictus (original Latin title, 1997; available with subtitles in Hillman Library) and Landscape (also known as A Small [Piece of] Country; Krajinka, 2000; available with subtitles in Hillman Library) – are intellectualized continuations of the theme of the desirability of a return to, journey through, or life in a rural setting.
The Garden shows the main character Jakub (Roman Luknár), a rather passive man living with his father in the city, finding education in nature and disappointment in urban settings. With notional scenes, a philosophizing script, and a dedication to expressive whim, it re-packages the theme of rural bliss, recurrent in Slovak film, in a form palatable for trendy audiences.


Slovak cinema after World War II.


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