Pictures of the Old World

A testimony leaning towards contemplative lyricism, this documentary portrays the unique inhabitants of a far-flung region of rural Slovakia as it meditates on old age, loneliness, poverty and the weight of life’s destiny. However, the film is also a reflection of the indomitability of man and of an authentic existence that defies the pressures of civilisation.

Obrazy starého sveta
Czechoslovakia 1972
  • English
67 min.

The singularity of the ten individuals portrayed in this work – inhabitants of a remote mountainous region of Slovakia – rattled the former regime to the extent that the film was locked away in the vault for many years. Nonetheless, the director, inspired by the photographs of Martin Martinček, demonstrated considerable sensibility and invention in his documentary poem, whose underlying message is supremely humane. Hanák’s villagers, decrepit through old age and harsh living conditions, resemble ancient trees with twisted branches which even the most destructive gales have failed to uproot. At life’s end, weak, lonely and sick, these people wrestle with their destiny each day, unwavering and without a word of complaint. Though sorely tried by fate, when asked “what has value in life?”, they give the timid response: people… love…

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Director: Dušan Hanák
Screenplay: Dušan Hanák
Cinematography: Alojz Hanúsek
Music: Václav Hálek, Jozef Malovec
Editing: Alfréd Benčič
Cast: Komentář / narrator: Ladislav Chudík