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Sverák, the Czech director of the Oscar-winning "Kolya", returns
with another film that examines his country's turbulent 20th century history through
its minor characters, relying on a similar mixture of humour and pathos.
is impressive as the stoic Franta, a pilot imprisoned in communist Czechoslovakia
after spending World War Two with an RAF squadron in England.
we see his escape from home after Nazi invasion in 1939, taking with him his wide-eyed
protégé Karel (Hádek).
Joining a squadron
across the Channel, the duo have a high old time training on bicycles and getting
their heads around our idiosyncratic language. But when Karel crash-lands near
the house of rural wife Susan (Fitzgerald), whose ssiy spouse is missing in action,
he and Franta find their friendship put under strain by a competing attraction
the miserable grey hues of Franta's post-war prison with the bright colours of
a life in the clouds above Britain. The pilots fly over yellow meadows and green
woods, and through blue skies, albeit while dog-fighting with the Germans.
Even when Karel goes down in occupied France, he lands in a hayfield containing
helpful, pretty peasant girls.
More sombre notes
are touched on as the love triangle develops and pilots start dying, with the
thought constantly in the background that all their sacrifices will lead only
to persecution after the war.
However, the script
by Sverák's father Zdenek - not a million miles from the "over sexed,
over here" theme of John Schlesinger's 1979 pic "Yanks" - has a
lightness of touch that makes for relatively uncomplicated viewing.
World" opens in UK cinemas on Friday 10th May 2002.
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Reviewed by Simon
Wardell , BBC Films