From Hungarian novelist Lajos Zilahy’s 1928 Valamit visz a víz (Something Is Adrift in the Water), Ján Kadár and Elmar Klos’s Hrst plná vody had a difficult birth. The 1968 Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia interrupted its filming, requiring relocation and re-shooting; the language shifted from Czech to Slovak, retitling it: Touha zvaná Anada—Desire Called Anada. Imre Gyöngyössy had written the time-juggling script, with both co-directors contributing.
Adrift is challenging, somewhat frustrating, but intermittently very beautiful. Yanos is a fisherman who one day makes a bewitching catch: a girl, not a fish, whom he rescues from drowning. This is Anada, whom he brings into his hut. She is an embodiment of desire to whom his wife, Zuska, and teenaged son, Petr, are also drawn. But it is Yanos whose psyche is unhinged by her, secretly stalking her and becoming jealous of other men she attracts.
Visually, the filmmakers create a compelling sense of Yanos’s interiority. At the beginning, the camera enters the hut by withdrawing from outdoors through a window (Petr is seated, reading to his sick, bedridden mother who has fallen asleep), followed by Yanos’s doorway entrance, shot from inside the hut. Much of the tragic film consists literally of Yanos’s interiority: his thoughts, which we hear as voiceover accompanying images of Yanos, who at other times converses outdoors in the dark with imaginary men, guilty projections of his. Intriguingly, after the rescue in the past time-frame, Anada appears in the bed where Zuska battles typhus in the present, suggesting a causal link between Yanos’s sexual obsessiveness and Zuska’s poor health.
Shots of the water project Yanos’s unconscious, and his glimpse of Anada wading naked, including her reappearance after a heartstoppingly long dip below the surface, is as heady as anything imaginable.
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