Ztraceni v Mnichově (Lost in Munich)
Revisiting history, Petr Zelenka’s latest film deals with the aftermath of the Munich Betrayal in two acts. The first one stars a parrot formerly owned by Édouard Daladier, the French prime minister responsible for surrendering Czech land in a conciliatory act towards Hitler’s Germany, that witnessed key meetings with the German dictator and Benito Mussolini.
Pavel (Martin Myšička), an investigative journalist going through a mid-life crisis, abducts the parrot after it starts to repeat degrading comments made by his former owner Daladier about the Czechs, causing diplomatic outrage.
This entertaining but amateur-spirited story is redeemed by the second act, a behind the scenes mockumentary showing the many unfortunate events that kept jeopardising the production of the previous act. These include allergies, sudden deaths, communication errors and nasty Franco-Czech co-production arguments, all of which unfold into further comic absurdity with great political insight.
Lost in Munich gets better as it progresses, and its many intelligent remarks become clearer. One that particularly stands out – and even resonates with the title – refers to the impossibility of defence against external threat. The sui generis structure that relieves the spectator from conventional narrative is, thus, not the only thing to be praised about Zelenka’s creativity. His metacinematic approach to the understanding of contemporary Czech identity is funny and ironic, but also deep and moving, conveyed as a personal realisation of how political issues shape the thoughts and acts of a nation.
Films about making films have become a commonplace of sorts. Yet, Lost in Munich, instead of revealing the machinery behind the industry to make a commentary, takes advantage of its metaphoric possibilities for questioning, reinterpreting and reimagining history. The opportunity of experiencing awareness of the ideological wonders of the medium, while simultaneously being entertained to the point of laughter, deserves great acclaim. It might not be a reinvention of cinematic dogma, but it is an entertaining challenge to history and filmmaking, as well as to the spectator’s own relationship with each of them.
Ztraceni v Mnichově (Lost in Munich) does not have a UK release date yet. It is part of the Laugh competition at the 59th London Film Festival.
Watch the trailer for Ztraceni v Mnichově (Lost in Munich and Me) here: