Living under an oppressive regime essentially means spending your life in a constant state of anxiety and trepidation. Those citizens residing in communist countries during the Cold War faced a constant barrage of propaganda and indoctrination. You never knew who was listening. Could never be at ease. Friends and neighbours would inform on each other. Flavour of the month one minute, the next you could mysteriously disappear. This climate of fear is at the heart of Karel Kachyna’s film, The Ear.
Ludvik (Radoslav Brzobohatý) is a senior official in the Party. Along with his wife, Anna (Jirina Bohdalová), he attends a soiree with fellow high-ranking members. During the evening he hears increasingly worrying rumours which put him on edge. After the couple return home, tension rapidly builds up between them. There’s something happening at his neighbour’s house and a serious of coincidences lead Ludvik to suspect that they’ve been put under surveillance by ‘The Ear’.
Banned soon after completion, it took twenty years for The Ear to be released. It’s easy to see why. Kachyna’s critique of totalitarianism and the (then) ruling Communist elite(s) is hardly subtle. The Ear is a darkly comedic meditation of the nature of fear. How dread and paranoia become a way of life and put a huge strain on relationships. It’s a wonderful film and one which deserves to be discovered by a new generation.
- Introduction to the film by writer and critic Peter Hames.
- Digitally re-mastered with restored image and sound.
- New and improved English subtitle translation.
- Booklet featuring Essay on the film by writer/critic Steven Jay Schneider and a biography of Karel Kachyna
The Ear is released on Blu-ray by Second Run on 26 August.