Close Up

22 April 2017: A Blonde in Love / Poor Cow


A Blonde in Love
Miloš Forman
1965 | 81 min | B/W | 35mm

With sixteen women to each man, the odds are against Andula in her desperate search for love – that is, until a rakish piano player visits her small factory town and temporarily eases her longings. A tender and humorous look at Andula’s journey, from the first pangs of romance to its inevitable disappointments, A Blonde in Love immediately became a classic of the Czech New Wave and earned Miloš Forman the first of his Academy Award nominations.

This bittersweet romance from Miloš Forman, unfolds as a sweetly seductive film but also provides a wry critique of life under totalitarianism. Forman is able to distil universal truths from the simplest of situations and present them with a sharp yet compassionate eye. A Blonde in Love remains a tender and beautifully observed story about the seemingly impossible odds of young romance and youthful aspiration under totalitarianism. Aided by Miroslav Ondríček's wonderful camerawork, and with Ivan Passer (director of Intimate Lighting) as assistant director and co-scriptwriter, the pleasures to be gained here are immense.

Poor Cow
Ken Loach
1967 | 102 min | Colour | DCP

This snapshot of '60s London stars Carol White as young mother Joy. Beautiful, free-spirited and resilient, Joy is nevertheless struggling to cope while her brutal, uncaring husband (John Bindon) is in jail. Clutching at any slight chance of happiness, she falls for his associate, Dave (Terence Stamp) - but with heart-breaking results. Loach depicts Joy's world with typical care, showing how her plight derives from a set of social circumstances largely outside her control. Full of '60s colour and music - including the music of Donovan - it's also stylistically innovative, with an improvised spontaneity and Joy providing first-person narration over the soundtrack. It all serves to create a slightly distanced, ironic tone - offset by the film's tender compassion for, and thoughtful involvement in, its subject.

Part of our season on Milos Forman and the British Free Cinema movement, in collaboration with Czech Centre London: