The Valley of the Bees
Czechoslovakia | 1967 | 96 min | director František Vláčil | DoP František Uldrich | cast Petr Čepek, Jan Kačer, Zdeněk Kryzánek, Věra Galatíková, Miroslav Macháček, Josef Somr
The second half of the 13th century. The widowed lord of the Vlkova fortress marries the young Lenore. His twelve-year-old son from his first marriage, Ondřej, gives his future „mother“ a basket hiding bats among the white flowers. The boy’s father throws him against the wall in a fit of rage. Over the bleeding, lifeless body, she begs the Virgin Mary for his healing and promises to place Ondřej at her service. The healed Ondřej is taken north to the castle, where a powerful Crusader order resides. Its members renounce women and other worldly temptations. Ondřej befrien Armin von Heid, an ascetic and fanatic who exaggerates renunciation to the point of masochism. Years go by, and Ondřej is now a grown man. During Lent, the knight Rotgier escapes from the castle, and Armin pursues him with other men. Ondřej meets the fugitive by chance, and even a quick conversation with him sparks a longing for freedom. Although a pack of dogs kills the captured Rotgier, Ondřej manages to escape. He reaches Vlkov, where the widowed Lenora lives. The two young people become close and decide to marry. On Ondřej’s heels, Armin lurks around the fortress and enters it on the day of the wedding. Lenore doesn't want to push the guest away and even kisses him in a friendly way. A fanatical man breaks into her bedroom in the evening and slits her throat. Ondřej throws him to the dogs but repents and returns north to the seat of the Order.