THE THIRD ONE
alternative title: The Third Kind
Director: Jaroslav Balik
Production Co.: Filmové Studio Barrandov
Screenplay: Jaroslav Balik & Jan Otcenasek, from a story by Jaroslav Havlicek
Photography: Josef Illik
Editor: Jirina Lukesova
Music: Karel Mares
George Manek: Václav Voska
Eva: Ida Rapaicova
Jarmila: Blanka Bohidanova
Black & White
Czech, with English subtitles
An interesting, serious film about contemporary uncertainties, frustrations and misunderstandings. It deals with the generation gap, and with one man's uncertainty about his life, his work and his personal relationships. There is striking black and white photography on location in and around Prague, and the music score is used effectively. The young director obviously owes a debt to various western productions of the late 60s.
- Anonymous catalogue note, 1971
A swinging Prague film from the late sixties (and boy, is it from the late sixties) featuring the Czech equivalents of Dirk Bogarde (circa now) and Julie Christie (circa then) in a familiar mismatched 'look at the size of my generation gap' romance. Nice photography, a decent script and solid performances (particularly from Blanka Bohdanova in the thankless 'older woman' role) keep it watchable, but all in all it's rather too male-menopausal and derivative (Antonioni without the rigour; Petulia without the gimmicks) for my taste. In the second half things take a turn for the black, and somehow the film marshals itself for a surprisingly strong ending. But the pungency of the conclusion is a little too tentative and tardy to lend much flavour to the rest of the film. However, the earlier sections of the film offer contrasting, if not wholly contradictory, pleasures in the form of cheap camp laughs at standard clichés of the era viewed through the distorting lens of the Iron Curtain. There's a bunch of 'wild young things' flouncing around through much of the film, going to crazy discothèques that look like your school ball and throwing crazy parties that look like parentally sponsored get-togethers before or after your school ball. At one point a particularly wild, particularly young thing storms into the party demanding to know who's stolen his Englebert Humperdinck record. Although the inimitable Mr. H was officially bigger than the Beatles in 1967, this is the kind of telling detail no trendy English film of the era could afford. Speaking of things fab, The Third One may offer your only chance to scream hysterically at the 'Czech Beatles' (it says here). Regrettably, lava lamps appear not to have made it to Prague by 1969, so the period recreation is necessarily incomplete.
- A.L. (exploratory research carried out in 1991 or thereabouts)
George Manek (Voska) has made a career of restoring historic castles but he admits he is not involved in his work. He meets Jarmila, whom he had known 16 years earlier. But as their old friendship begins to warm, he picks up Eva, a young hitch-hiker, and on the spur of the moment accepts her invitation to go with her to her country home.
"Will I seduce you or murder you?", she asks, but though she teases him and agrees to spend a weekend with him, she keeps their physical relationship cool. Her careless, youthful behaviour continues to attract George, who spends all his free time with her. But he is embarrassed by her student friends and frustrated by her ultimate coldness towards him - so once again he begins to see his older woman friend.
He asks Jarmila what he should do about Eva. She says: "You want certainty. There is no certainty." George decides to end his relationship with the girl, but lacks the courage to tell her. The next time they meet, she gives herself to him. This seems to be the certainty he needs, but afterwards she tells him she cannot stand him and will not see him again.
All that is left for him seems to be suicide, but even on this matter he is uncertain.