Running Time: 118 minutes
Country: Czech Republic, Poland
Every country has their bleak and dramatic stories from World War Two. Some are better known than others and, after the break-up of the Soviet Union, some are being told to the Western world for the first time. Recent years have seen Katyn from Poland and American-made Defiance representing Belarus and now the Czech Republic has Lidice to recount a dark episode from their Twentieth Century history.
Lidice deals with the build up, inhuman proceedings and aftermath of the only officially recognised genocide of the Second World War. The complete liquidation and destruction of the Czech town of Lidice and its inhabitants which took place when some of its residents were linked to the assassination of Heydrich, the Nazi put in control of controlling Czechoslovakia. In the run up to the terrible acts of the Nazis, Frantisek (Roden) is sent to prison for killing his brother and Karel (Novak) and Vlcek (Luknar) fight for the affections of Anicka (Kubarova).
The arresting and evocative cinematography and musical score combine to create a haunting atmosphere and ratchet up the tension as the relationship between the Czechs and Nazis goes from relatively calm and peaceful to murderous bedlam. The characterisation is excellent as the main players are well-introduced and kept evolving as the years pass by throughout the film – a very important asset as, in a way, this is a film about ordinary people and their intermingling lives. Sometimes Lidice tends towards melodrama but this is successfully reigned in and the resultant drama leaves you feeling genuinely moved.
It’s often easy with films dealing with difficult subjects to over-praise them – average Holocaust film The Pianist, for example – so it must be said that Lidice is not a classic. The pacing is a little uneven as too much time is spent setting the scene and therefore the assassination and the more interesting themes after the horrific event feel a little underdeveloped and tacked on.
It's Got: Thorough characterisation, haunting musical score, impressive cinematography
It Needs: A little less melodrama, more time to be given to the fascinating themes towards the end
Alternatives:Defiance, Katyn, Schindler's List
A haunting tale of ordinary lives and genocide in Czechoslovakia during World War Two that is well told with great acting, and excellent cinematography and a musical score that complement each other perfectly.