ZELARY Add To My Top 10
Modeling Christian Charity
Release Date: September 17, 2004
Runtime: 148 minutes
Distributor: Sony Pictures Classics
Address Comments To:Michael Barker, Tom Bernard and Marcie Bloom
Sony Pictures Classics
550 Madison Avenue, 8th Floor
New York, NY 10022
Phone: (212) 833-8833
Web Page: http://www.sonyclassics.com
ZELARY opens as Richard and Eliska, an attractive couple, are enjoying the richness and excesses of 1943 city life. An illicit affair, posh living accommodations, an expensive automobile, and the freedom to travel virtually anywhere are privileges of the upper class. This doctor and nurse’s romantic evening, however, is interrupted as they are summoned to an emergency at the hospital.
A mountain man from Zelary has suffered a tragic accident, and Eliska is the only one available with a matching blood type. The surgery and transfusion save the big man’s life and Eliska cares for him in his days of recovery. Meanwhile, Eliska and her colleagues assist the underground resistance movement by hand-delivering messages to closely guarded areas. Soon, Hitler’s National Socialists discover their involvement and set out to arrest them.
Eliska awakens to discover that Richard has fled during the night, abandoning her to save himself. Another doctor helps her elude authorities by arranging for Joza, the mountain man, to take her back to his village and hide her as his new bride. Eliska changes her name to Hana and travels a great distance with Joza to rural Zelary. Joza, reserved and quiet in the city, becomes more alive and invigorated as he gets closer to home. Hana, on the other hand, becomes more distant and depressed by the rugged conditions of this backward and backwoods life.
Zelary is a village isolated from Nazi domination, yet fearful of soldiers passing through. Joza’s neighbors are not presented as perfect people, but family, faith and relationships are most important to these mountain residents. The town’s priest is a godly man who prays and desires to do right at all times, yet struggles with the deception of hiding Hana from the authorities. Reluctantly, Hana agrees to marry Joza right away in a simple village wedding. She is then welcomed and embraced by the other residents. Hana’s sadness deepens as she adjusts to Joza’s rugged shack of dirt floors and no electricity. Nearby, a town drunk creates tremendous problems for his family, his neighbors and the newly arrived Hana, but his drunkenness is rebuked and the consequences of his actions are clearly shown.
Joza, at least, is a religious and upright man who cherishes Hana and believes in the sanctity of marriage. He is a gentle giant of a man who protects Hana and the other villagers from various dangers. Slowly, Hana warms to Joza and their tender romance blossoms along with the changing seasons of the picturesque Zelary countryside.
A couple of years pass and Hana has grown to deeply love Joza and the people of Zelary. During a Christmas service in church, and the reading of the Christmas story, Nazis descend on the village to punish those who have willingly hid dissidents.
ZELARY is a poignant story of passion and values. Before its conclusion, many will sacrifice their lives to protect others from the enemy. Hardships will come but life will continue in Zelary.
Despite its mature themes, violence and brief nudity, ZELARY is unexpectedly charming and delightful. Director Trojan occasionally side-steps into the lives of the children trying to grow up under those awful and terrifying experiences. As a result, there is a particularly wonderful conversation about God between a young girl and the village priest. A delicate story in the hands of a talented cast and crew, this movie is a touching account of survival. Though there is much pain along the way, ZELARY turns out to be a wonderful place to visit.
ZELARY is a deeply satisfying story of earnest love, honor and sacrifice during war. Shimmering with a visual beauty, the movie contains Christian elements, God-fearing characters and strong redemptive themes, but also has some strong violence and brief nudity. Before its conclusion, many will sacrifice their lives to protect others from the enemy. Though there is much pain along the way, ZELARY turns out to be a wonderful place to visit.