What You Need To Know:
(AC, L, S) Anti-Communist worldview; approximately 10 scatological crudities; several implied sex scenes; and, a comic denunciation of totalitarian hypocrisy and inefficiency.
In THE LIFE AND EXTRAORDINARY ADVENTURES OF PRIVATE IVAN CHONKIN, Czech director Jiri Menzel has created a mini-masterpiece chronicling the outrageous adventures of a dim-witted Soviet soldier who outwits the oppressively inept political and military bureaucracies of Stalin-controlled Russia. Chonkin’s plane makes an emergency landing on the outskirts of a small village, and Chonkin is immediately smitten by the local post mistress with whom he begins a passionate love affair. The local authorities believe he is a spy, and the official accountant is fearful because he has altered the records to show that the village is meeting its quota. One blunder leads to another, and the movie culminates in two divisions of soldiers squared off with one another, and Chonkin and his girl friend come out of the fray as heroes.
CHONKIN is a brilliant expose of the ineptitude and hypocrisy that marked Soviet life under Stalin. Himself a victim of Stalinesque oppression when his LARKS ON A STRING was banned and he was treated as a persona non-gratis within his own Czech nation, Menzel is able to offer keen insight into the dissimulating way of life in totalitarian eastern Europe. Photographed in a fittingly bleached-out sepia style, with brilliant acting performances and subtle political satire, Czech filmmaker Jiri Menzel has fashioned an extraordinary small film.