A short excerpt from the booklet essay by Peter Hames.
The Sun in a Net aka Sunshine in a Net (Slnko v sieti, 1962) was Štefan Uher’s second feature film and the first of his collaborations with the novelist, Alfonz Bednár, which were to extend across a further nine features, and formed part of a deliberate policy of involving key literary figures in the process of filmmaking. Bednár and Uher, remarked producer Albert Marenčin, were to become soulmates. The film not only marked a key date in the history of Slovak cinema but also of ‘Czechoslovak’ cinema since it preceded the first of the ‘New Wave’ films by the Czech directors Věra Chytilová, Miloš Forman and Jaromil Jireš by a year. In a number of ways, it prefigured the themes and concerns that their films came to address throughout the 1960s.
Bednár had already established his anti-Stalinist credentials with his novel Glass Peak (Sklený vrch, 1954) and his collection of stories, The Hours and the Minutes (Hodiny a minuty,1956). The Sun in a Net was based on three stories first published in 1961 and later in a collection Building 4/B (Blok 4/B,1977). The film centres on the world of a teenager, nicknamed Fayolo, and his relationship with a young girl named Bela. After their romance undergoes what seem to be temporary problems, he joins a summer work ‘brigade’ and goes to work on a collective farm. He writes a letter to her which she reads aloud to her substitute boyfriend, Peto. Their relationship resumes when he returns but they break up again when he discovers that she has shown the letter to the other boy.
This teenage romance clearly has the objective of appealing to a younger audience and, in this respect, is not dissimilar from the framework adopted by Forman in Black Peter (Černý Petr, 1963) and A Blonde in Love (Lásky jedné plavovlásky, 1965). However, like them, it is also a strategy for examining the wider realities of family and social life. But while we are given an insight into the lives of the parents, they also constitute a kind of background ‘reality’. Fayolo’s mother is always at work, with her presence indicated only by the meals she leaves in the fridge for Fayolo and his father. Bela’s mother is blind and appears to be a burden on her husband. We later learn that her blindness is the result of a failed suicide attempt, which is a response to her husband’s infidelity. To construct her view of the world, she is constantly reliant on the descriptions of others.
Martin Votruba points out that much of the film’s subject matter would previously have been unacceptable. The teenagers’casual relationships, a philandering husband, remote parents and attempted suicide were very far from the ‘ideal’ world presented through Socialist Realist ideology (Votruba, 2005b). In this sense, the film’s hard look at the realities of everyday socialism was a clear forerunner of the ‘social realism’ of Forman’s 1960s films, and the complex analyses presented in Evald Schorm’s Everyday Courage (Každý den odvahu, 1964) and Return of the Prodigal Son (Návrat ztraceného syna, 1966).
Eduard Grečner, who acted as assistant director on the film and also on many of Uher’s earlier documentaries, stresses Uher’s concern with portraying everyday reality and the influence of Italian neo-realism. This was particularly true of his documentaries, which already broke with existing stereotypes. The Sun in a Net uses real locations, non-actors, everyday dress and the sounds of real life. The influences here, he suggests, were Luchino Visconti and and Giuseppe De Santis. Grečner stresses that they built up a whole library of real sounds and that Ilja Zeljenka’s music imitated the sounds of the television aerials with which the film opens (Grečner, interviewed in The Golden Sixties/Zlatá šedesátá, Martin Šulík, 2011).
Peter Hames' complete essay, from which this excerpt is taken, appears in the booklet which accompanies the DVD release.
A short excerpt from the booklet
MovieMail by Michael Brooke
DVD Beaver by Eric Cotenas
The Arts Shelf by Adam Gonet
The Digital Fix by Clydefro Jones
Close-Up Film by Colin Dibben
The Arts Desk by Tom Birchenough
Letterboxd by Adam G
Cine-Vue by Sophia Satchell-Baeza
Cinematic Investigations by Harriet Warman
Cinemas Online by Dave Lancaster
London Evening Standard by Steve Morrissey
Cine Outsider by Slarek
Mondo Digital by Nathaniel Thompson
Front Row Reviews by Jonathan Glen
'DVD of the Month' at DVD Beaver
Sight & Sound by Michael Brooke
Senses of Cinema
(i) KinoKultura - special issue on Slovak Cinema
(ii) Peter Strickland blogs on The Sun in a Net
(iii) Revisting The Velvet Divorce - 20 years on from the Czech/Slovak split
(iv) The Sun in a Net - Slovak Studies Program, University of Pittsburgh
(v) Interview with cinematographer Stanislav Szomolányi
(vi) The Slovak Film Institute
(vii) An article by Peter Hourigan for Senses of Cinema on the occasion of the June 2013 screening at the Melbourne Cinematheque
Length / The Sun in a Net:
Length / Special feature:
Sound: Original mono (restored)
Black and White
Original aspect ratio: 1.33:1 full frame
Subtitles: English (On/Off)
Release Date: 12 August 2013 Second Run DVD 081