Friday, September 3, 2010

Kdo Chce Zabit Jessii? (Who Wants to Kill Jessie?) (1966)
Czechoslovakia --- science fiction/ fantasy

Dir: Václav Vorlícek and Milos Macourek

When it comes to Sixties comedies, you pretty much know what you can expect from them. They're definitely going to be pretty silly, no matter what country their from, and this film is no exception. There must've been something in the air. . . besides all the cannabis. From the comic strip opening, we pretty much can tell we're in for a zany ride.

The film, "Who Wants to Kill Jessie?", tells the story of government research scientist, Ruzenka, who invents a machine that is able to telecast dreams onto a monitor. Her milquetoast engineer husband, Jindrich, has been having wacky fantasies based on a comic strip he has been following about a beautiful woman (Jessie, played by the first Czech Playboy model Olga Schoberva) being chased down by two villains. One dressed as a cowboy, and the other a Superman knock-off, both conspicuously very Americana . . . hmmm. They are after her for an invention called anti-gravitational gloves. The scientist conducts a kind of showing of what her invention is capable of, using a cow as her guinea pig. The monitor shows the cow in distress over him having gadflies, and then once the scientist injects a serum to treat the nightmare into the cow while it's asleep, the gadflies emerge from the cows ears. This, for some reason is ignored, as the fellow scientist are simply amazed that they can see what the cow is dreaming.

One night while her husband is clearly talking in his sleep, and dreaming of the misadventures of Jessie, Ruzenka hooks her husband up to her invention, to espy just what is on his mind. Much to her consternation, she sees her husband and Jessie, as well as the two rascals after her. She wakes him up in disgust, and sends him to the couch. But not before giving him the serum. This is the part of the film where reality, goes out the window. For when her husband wakes up, he arises with Jessie asleep on the couch with him. Unfortunately, it also means her two adversaries are can't be far behind.

When Jindrich goes to work to continue on construction problems in the warehouse he's employed in, he leaves his all too real dream girl in the house. She eventually escapes her two pursurers through a window. She thus begins trapesing around town in nothing more than a short dress fleeing her comic-strip predators. This however becomes a major problem when his dreams cause troubles in the real world, and both Ruzenka and Jinrich are at fault.

Would it be too pretentious to look at this film as an allegory about freedom the often Commie powers-that-be who controlled most of Eastern Europe at that time? Perhaps. This comedic fantasy is so over-the-top you can't help but laugh at some of the stuff explored in the film. The dream characters have actual word ballons in the film that the reality characters physically interact with. Two interesting factoids: This film is not alone in the Czech New-Wave film movement, although Milos Forman didn't have too much to do with them, the movement didn't last too long at all. The other interesting factoid is, Japan has developed a machine that can see into dreams. Though the technology is far from what is seen in this film, or something like "Paprika" or the recent "Inception", it does exist in a rudimentary stage.