Although very neatly structured with three acts and two bookends, Ondřej Hudeček’s Peacock (Furiant) is anything but conventional. It offers a glimpse of 19th-century Czech playwright Ladislav Stroupežnický’s early years and the motivating force behind his turn from romanticism to realism: a broken heart that led to a death and a botched suicide. And yet, the plot moves at a dynamic clip and includes plenty of moments peppered with tongue-in-cheek humour.

With visuals inspired by Barry Lyndon and the sublime landscapes of the Barbizon school, this 27-minute film mixes tragedy, romance and black comedy while incorporating animation, a voiceover, title cards and even a reproduction of text from the screenplay. It also cleverly suggests that God, embodied here by a bright light in the sky with complementary, bombastic musical interruptions, tenderly looks upon (and perhaps even orchestrates) the main character’s same-sex relationship, notwithstanding the (near-)deaths we get to witness. The main character barely speaks, but a lifetime of emotions is conveyed, and in the process the portrait of this LGBT artist as a young man gets elevated to the realm of art.

Text: André Crous

The author is a translator and formerly the film critic at The Prague Post.