Profile: Jiri Menzel: The Good Soldier of Czech Cinema

BLUE SKY, VIRGIN EARTH. In the opening shot of Jiri Menzel’s latest film, The Life and Extraordinary Adventures of Private Ivan Chonkin, the camera soars high above a pastoral horizon. Farmland, forests, and an idyllic Russian village stand hundreds of feet below. As summer air rushes past, we come closer and closer to land, until the surface becomes a composite of innumerable details. The serenity of distance gives way to the dust and grit of the world at eye level. Now life must take its course.