Nationalism demands strong heroic (normally male) characters and Eastern European under the post-war regimes were full of ‘men of the people’. Polish cinema in particular is teeming with examples of hard working men who lived off the land and rose to glory for the good of the nation. Not to be outdone, Czechoslovakia had a strong tradition in that area, and whilst Czech cinema may be more well-known today, Slovakia wasn’t far behind.
When Dragon (Radovan Lukavský) returns to his village from exile the locals are all of a flutter. Is he going to take revenge for the injustice which was done to him, both by the residents as a whole and to Simon (Gustáv Valach) who has married his former lover, Eva (Emília Vásáryová)? When a fire threatens an area where the village’s cattle are grazing, Dragon volunteers to rescue them. He is accompanied by the rather anxious Simon.
Dragon’s Return is a tale of suspicion, loneliness and redemption. Dragon has to win over the locals after being driven out due to their superstitions, finds himself coming up against stern resistance. Eduard Grecner’s film plays out like a medieval poem; one man’s quest for acceptance, love and a place in the world. The beautiful cinematography helps to shroud the film in a layer of mystery and intrigue as Dragon’s Return beguiles and enchants.
Dragon’s Return is released on DVD by Second Run and is out now.