Imagining Beyond the Human: Marketa Lazarová as Becoming-Animal

Abstract : Two anecdotes appear to be commonly associated with František Vláčil's magnum opus Marketa Lazarová. The more famous one is that it was voted by critics as the best Czech film ever made. 1 The other one is that the entire crew spent a year living in the wild, using only historical means of survival in order to create such material conditions as to be able to see through the eyes of medieval humans. 2 This experience as part of the creative process came to be part of the film itself, as it is in many ways unlike anything else done by the makers. A sprawling, ever-evolving chaos defying linearity and perspective, perhaps it could be best described as an arrangement of parts connected in complex relation with little that would resemble a unity into which all parts would disappear. 3 The elements then form a multiplicity: the film is consciously one and many at the same time and forms no organic whole. Figures take on meaning based on proximity, not in and of themselves. Indeed, its acentral scattering, spanning space-time, is stated explicitly within the first minutes: "Foolish deeds are scattered at random. Why listen? Is there sense in what was written? By chance, haphazardly, for poetry's sake, at the behest of a wandering echo, and because the oldest things carry over into the present." While thematically, there are many connections with the rest of his oeuvre, which includes the continuous appearance of animals, the 1967 film is formally unique. 4 I will enter the world this film proposes through the figures of animals. From this vantage point, Marketa Lazarová will appear as an attempt to make a pre-Cartesian cinema, in that it defies any stable center and fixed subjecthood, and in doing so moves along
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Milan Kroulik. Imagining Beyond the Human: Marketa Lazarová as Becoming-Animal. The Cine-Files, Tracy Cox-Stanton, 2019. ⟨hal-02123426⟩

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