The Valley of the Bees

The Valley of the Bees (Údolí Včel) is a sort of sequel to the director’s better-known Marketa Lazarová, sharing the earlier film’s medieval setting and even reusing some of the same sets. A young boy is forced to join the order of the Teutonic Knights, and when he later rejects the strict monastic rule of the order, he is pursued by one of his former comrades. Vláčil’s ravishingly beautiful fable was released on the eve of the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968, and, enacting as it does the conflict between dogmatism and human freedom, was widely interpreted as an allegory of contemporary political events.