Sedmi kontinent (1966)

aka The Seventh Continent
Article 4310 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 9-14-2013
Directed by Dusan Vukotic
Featuring Demeter Bitenc, Karla Chadimova, Vanja Drach
Country: Yugoslavia / Czechoslovakia
What it is: Allegorical fantasy

Two children adrift on the ocean find their way to a magical land. When a third shows up, they build a paradise and summon the rest of the children in the world to the land as well. But how will the adults react?

Quite personally, I’m not a big advocate of the idea that children are naturally icons of angelic innocence who would create a paradise if taken away from the corrupting influence of the adults. Still, my application of that doubt to this film would be making the same mistake that the adults in this film make when they try to scientifically establish whether a chair with a girl sitting on it would float on water; it’s trying to add an absurd dose of reality to a world that is ruled by magic. And it is magic that infuses this film, so much so that in some ways it hardly matters that my copy of the movie is in Czech and has no English subtitles; I can sense the magic coming out of every frame and I respond to it. This is a truly astonishing fantasy; it’s whimsical and quite moving at times. It includes two flying birds made of paper, a forest grown from figures cut out of paper, a map with a hole in it that can be used to communicate with people across the world, a marching band of circus performers, and so on. No, I can’t say I understand it in its entirety, but I was hypnotized and charmed by this one. I’m beginning to believe that there’s something truly special about Czech fantasy cinema; I’ve seen so much great work from the country.


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