The Crucified | why you should watch the powerful classic film

The Crucified
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Boris Orlicky’s 1921 movie The Crucified has been restored, and will be shown at this year’s UK Jewish Film Festival.

The UK Jewish Film Festival has begun in London with an incredible collection of brand-new films about Jewish culture or made by Jewish filmmakers.

This year, old movie lovers are in for a treat as there are some incredible vintage films including Dana Ivgy-led drama Or (My Treasure) (2004) and LGBT+ masterpiece Amazing Grace (1992).

Of course, those two movies are far too modern for my sensibilities. However, if you like to look back to over 100 years ago, then the UK Jewish Film Festival, in partnership with the Czech Centre London, are proud to present Boris Orlicky’s The Crucified (1921).

The Crucified, or Ukrizovaná, directed by Boris Orlicky revolves around antisemitism in 19th century Europe. During a horrendous pogrom, an innkeeper’s daughter is horrifically crucified, and her illegitimate son, Jan, is sent to be raised in a convent. When Jan gets older, he struggles with his past, and is constantly haunted by images of her death. Jan sets upon a journey and is determined to look into what happened to his mother.

The Crucified is a powerful, if gruesome, film that grapples with many different levels of violence. Not only does Orlicky’s film deal with the unsettling and graphic antisemitic violence of Victorian Europe, but it sensitively tackles haunting trauma.

Orlicky doesn’t shy away from the violence, and the searing image of a young woman upon a cross will play in your mind similarly to how Jan is taunted by the ghost of his mother. The result is a stark and brutal depiction of particular spite of violence that plagues generations.

Personally, I’m particularly affected by the way Jan is tormented – even fainting at one point in front of his peers at the terror of his memories. It’s a depiction of how trauma can affect someone throughout the entirety of their life. These scenes and his journey – played greatly by Czech actor Karel Lamac, who’d later become a popular film director.

The Crucified has been restored in a glorious way and returns to the big screen with a brand-new electronic accompaniment by Dizzock & False Trance, which adds another layer of intensity to the film. The hypnotic tracks help elevate the images on screen, blending the modern with the classic imagery, underscoring the darker elements of the movie.

Whilst the film itself is an unflinching depiction of aggression, the modern music imbues Orlicky’s work with somewhat of a sense of wonder.

After all, how incredible is it that artistry can transcend an entire century in order to produce an incredible and unmissable once-in-a-lifetime screening.

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