Solitude

Surprising as it may seem, there is a human relationship at the center of Samorost (Solitude), the 1984 Czech film comedy directed by Otakar Fuka. On one side, Dr Pavel Stastny (Milan Lasica), a university associate professor of ethics. On the other, Eva (Veronika Zilkova), his daughter from his first marriage:

He hasn’t seen her for ten years when she arrives on his doorstep, not at the most convenient moment imaginable (because he’s in the middle of a night of passion with his second wife). At least she has the grace to bring a gift of flowers with her, and he welcomes her with obvious paternal pride. She’s full of youthful freshness, but it seems there is a serious-minded side beneath her breezy impulsiveness: what she most wants in life, she says, is to study medicine.

And what she wants from her father is his help to get her a place at the medical school in Prague. In due course she is accepted – but only because Pavel has made an unethical arrangement which requires ongoing quid pro quo favors from him. He also allows her to move in with him and the second Mrs Stastny during her studies. Predictably, living with a young person isn’t always easy: there are a few disconcerting habits of casual undress about the house,

and the boundary between carefree exuberance and selfishness is ill-defined and open to interpretation when it involves, for example, loud music late at night. Even so, Pavel remains a completely devoted, indulgent father; but Eva takes advantage, and relations with her stepmother grow strained. Finally Pavel and Eva are both arrested after a drunken binge, and the outcome is that Pavel develops a powerful craving for solitude – hence the title of the film.

He takes refuge at his country cottage in the snow and aggressively resists all efforts to inveigle him back into human society. But Eva won’t leave him alone: she tries to move into the cottage with him, the result of which is an argument, followed by an aspect of the father-daughter relationship that she hasn’t experienced before…

a good spanking!

That’s very nearly the end of it. Eva takes herself off and goes it alone in her medical studies; Pavel comes out of his self-imposed isolation and returns to the classroom, perhaps a wiser and sadder man.

You can watch the film here.

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