Friday, January 25, 2013

Visual Diary: A Peasant Revolt

By Olivia Maria Hărşan

Miklós Jancsó's 'Red Psalm' (1972) 

Before communism in Eastern Europe there existed much tension and upheaval in rural areas mainly to do with land ownership and the exploitation of peasants who lived and worked on that land. Red Psalm is a Hungarian film, which is loosely based on the Hungarian Revolution of 1948 whereupon independence from the Austrian Empire was won and Hungary became it's own nation. Jancsó's interpretation is metaphorical rather than a historical and accurate depiction of the event, drawing inspiration from the writings of Sándor Petőfi - poet, revolutionary and native of Transylvania.

Film stills derived from Red Psalm (1972) Miklós Jancsó

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Women in Film: Romanian beauty Violeta Andrei

By Olivia Maria Hărşan

In 1941, Violeta Andrei was born in the beautiful city of Brasov, Romania. She went on to study at the prestigious Caragiale Academy of Theatrical Arts and Cinematography in Bucharest. Her on screen debut was in collaboration with renowned director, Mircea Dragan for his film Golgota (1966). She is remembered today for her beauty - her striking green eyes - but also somewhat notoriously for her marriage to communist partisan, Ştefan Andrei who served as Minister of Foreign Affairs of Romania (1978-1985). Naturally, the actress would accompany her husband to political parties and gatherings where Elena Ceaușescu, the first lady (tyrant), was said to have developed a strong disliking and jealous feelings towards Violeta, effectively ordering her to 'cover up' during the filming of beach scenes and refrain from wearing any sort of low-cut blouse or short skirts. She has since become divorced from her husband, however, not much else is known about her life. Every now and again, Violeta appears in television interviews and newspaper articles discussing her fascinating past, but unfortunately the younger generation of Romanians have no interest for the great actors and directors of the past and thus there exists a lack of appreciation throughout the realm of Romanian 'cultural' media.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Fashion in Film: From Bohemian Retro to Barrandov Studios

By Olivia Maria Hărşan

There are many enchanting places in Prague and two of these places are the legendary Barrandov Studios and a cute little vintage boutique called Bohemian Retro. During my European adventure last year, I paid a visit to the well-known shop and invested in some much sought after jewels made of Bohemian glass quality. Upon your entrance into the shop, you will immediately experience a cosy and exciting atmosphere. Columns of glass beads occupy the walls and exquisite coats are to be found in every nook and cranny alongside an array of sparkly gowns. But don't fret, prices are affordable and there is no pretension in site - only fun dress up times guaranteed!

The owner, Rebecca Eastwood, who is originally from England, has combined London's vintage tradition with the strange and wonderful trends of 1960s Czechoslovakia. As of late, Bohemian Retro has acquired quite a lot of attention from fashion and culture zines - Rebecca is set to appear in a Marie Claire vintage shoot. And certainly deserves to - how many shop owners do you see putting on a fashion show in the middle of a busy street. Not only this but Rebecca is also a musician in various rock/alternative bands - how cool is that!

My adopted treasure. 5-strand Czech glass beaded necklace 
bought from Bohemian Retro, Prague.

So what does all of the above have to do with Barrandov Studios? Apparently a lot of their costumes are hired and/or purchased for productions that are filmed there. One of the largest film studios in Europe, Barrandov has been host to a variety of films since 1921, some Academy Award winning. Today it is predominantly used for the filming of television shows and commercials whereupon  audience members are rewarded with delicious alcoholic beverages - oh Prague how I miss you.

The costume archives at Barrandov Studios.
Photo derived from Barrandov Studios website.