Arvéd (2022)

Arvéd (2022)

Movie Details

Movie: Arvéd (2022)
Director: Vojtěch Mašek
Cast: Michal Kern, Emanuel Fellmer and Sasa Rasilov
Genres: Mystery/Drama
Release date: 25 August 2022
IMDB Rating: 5.6/10
Languages: Czech and German
Duration: 2h 00m


Arvéd (2022)


Vojtěch Mašek undoubtedly chose a very complex subject for his debut, but it is clear from his participation in the scripts for the films Křižáček and Okupace that he does not want to follow the beaten path. He used the pattern from Jan Poláček’s novel Malostranský dábel and presented an impressive, sweating, but also unfortunately fleeting collection about a forgotten personality of recent Czechoslovakia history.

Jiří Arvéd Smíchovský, also known as Arvéd, was among the leading domestic mystics and occultists of the first half of the 20th century. After serving in the First World War, he was educated in law, theology, and philosophy, but the acquired knowledge did not exactly lead him to humanist thinking – he sympathized with the fascists and shortly after the Nazi occupation he began to collaborate. He gave the Germans other enchanters and other eccentrics, to whom he was close thanks to his bohemian life and his then-exclude homosexual orientation. Thanks to this unethically, he had access to rare Occult Books through which he could perform rituals and perfect himself in black magic.

In this way, he sailed through the Protectorate, and although he tried to cooperate with Agent StB after the war, he ended up in a communist prison, which proved fatal for him. A reprehensible, but interesting life’s journey directly calls for a film adaptation – if only because in several themes it is possible to observe a similarity with the successful Charlatan. However, Mašek’s concept is more advanced than Agnieszka Holland’s handling of Jan Mikolášek in some places.

The number of visual ideas referring to expressionism or Hammer horrors is underlined by great work with sound and atmospheric, anachronistic music by Aid Kid and Jonatán Pastirčák. At the center of the non-linear, space-time jumping narrative, however, is the all too elusive figure of Arvéd. The overwrought performance of Michal Kern, who often overplays the lead role, sometimes approaches self-parody with its sliminess, while at other times it aptly expresses the horror unreadability of the realities of the time. However, we learn very little about the title figure – while the people around him are mostly connected to a certain time and place and thus serve as an anchor for the viewer’s orientation, the elusive Arvéd regularly resorts to recitations of classics and confusing dialogues, which lead nowhere.

Although the film emphasizes Arvéd’s puzzle and reluctance to adapt to the conventions of the time, in the end, he is a distinctly negative character who harmed rather than helped those around him. However, most of the realities of Smíchovský’s life are only very lightly hinted at, the film certainly cannot be criticized for being literal.

The film repeatedly uses dualities – God and Satan, Nazism and Communism, the memory of the individual and the memory of the nation. Above all, Arvéd’s counterpart, Štěpán Plaček (played by the excellent Saša Rašilov), in which it is well illustrates how the position of a person who is primarily trying to survive changes across regimes. Totalitarian regimes exploit the interdependence of these characters: Plaček needs Arvéd to stay in office, and Arvéd needs to survive through reporting. To be who he is in an unfree society.

However, the fateful tragedy of Arvéd’s character is better written about than watched. It would be interesting to examine the film from the point of view of structure – several patterns and moments return in slightly different variations, which gradually complete the impression of one disorganized soul. The gradual fall of the personality into the apparent safety of the occult is captured with horror-like intensity, which underlines the film’s split between sensory disorder and showing intense feelings of intellectual speech. However, due to the huge number of story outlets and jumps between emotions, it is almost impossible to connect with the anti-hero’s passage through time and space. And the result is, unfortunately, overwhelming confusion and boredom, which is not helped by the tedious footage of two hours.

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