Director: Jiri Weiss (Czechoslovakia – 1960)
Before the likes of Forman, Passer and Nemic got their satirical teeth into the Czech New Wave, Jiri Weiss had carved a reputation in war documentaries, with films such as ‘Rape of Czechoslovakia’ (1940), ‘Before the Raid’ (1943) and ‘The Wolf Trap’ (1957), which established him as a key figure in the country’s post-war cinema. ‘Romeo, Juliet and Darkness’ came in 1960. Eloquently shot in icy black and white, and set during the Nazi occupation of Prague, Weiss’s poetic meditation on the Anne Frank story centres on young student, Pavel (Ivan Mistrik), who hides a Jewish girl, Hanka (Daniela Smutna) in the attic of his apartment building. Skilfully blending tragic romance with social commentary, Weiss adequately captures the all-pervading mood of fear, disillusionment and oppression- a remarkable accomplishment for a Czech director who spent the war years in Britain.
Time Out (London) – Issue 1911 – 4th April 2007 – 86