The short version:
I absolutely love this film!
This is a beautiful and wacky SF comedy, one of the best ever to come out of Czechoslovakia. It is light-hearted yet pointedly satiric and keeps the audience laughing the whole way through.
It is amazing. You really should watch this one.
Even though you’ll have to read the subtitles.
The longer version:
Oldrich Lipský directed a long series of Czechoslovakian comedy films which include some of the best ever made in that country.
And, if you’ve seen any of the incredible comedy films made there in the Sixties, Seventies and Eighties, then you’ll know that they are some of the best comedies ever made.
He’s probably best remembered for Lemonade Joe (although personally, I think it goes on too long and would rank Four Murders Are Enough, Darling first– and most of his other films I’ve seen have been better) but, in keeping with the tendency towards surreal and fantastic films of the era, a lot of his films are SF or borderline SF, including I Killed Einstein, Gentlemen, The Mysterious Castle in the Carpathians, and the steampunk detective film, Adele Hasn’t Had Her Supper Yet.
Well, there’s also Man in Outer Space. But we’ll try to ignore that one.
Srdecný pozdrav ze zemekoule is among his best. The idea is a somewhat familiar one: two alien visitors arrive on Earth to study us.
Now, their arrival is shown in a series of comic animations done in a minimalist style that reminds me of R. O. Blechman’s The Soldier’s Tale (and they are used throughout the film for the aliens’ messages home) intercut with live action reactions. However one of the film’s best moments come when they reveal their true form — as the two cartoon aliens from the credits!
Their computer picks the one man they need to help them: a Sad Sack scientist working on artificial food, who was chosen because he was so…average.
He’s played by Jiri Menzel, who played a similar Sad Sack scientist in Upír z Feratu [Ferat Vampire]. Jiri makes him truly put upon and miserable. I suppose you might almost call him the Czech Rick Moranis. However, he also directed such classics as Closely Watched Trains and Capricious Summer.
Naturally, the aliens make a mess of his life, complicate his romance, and get him in trouble at work.
There\’s a lot of wonderful satire here, and it gives a remarkably dark view of modern Czechoslovakia for a film made after 1970: we see endless rows of identical housing blocks, industrial wastelands surrounding the city, and a totally, hysterically insane “nature reserve” which has set nature right (with push buttons and coin operated machines) and saved it from the anarchy where the rabbits ate grass, the foxes ate the rabbits, and the bears ate whatever they wanted (and their solution to the bear problem is probably the best joke in the entire film!).
Lipsky even risks an ending where the aliens are stuck on Earth when the computer assigns them the job of saving us from the disastrous end results of our civilization. And one of the two looks us in the eye and tells us that their computer is never wrong.
At any rate, it is a classic comedy, which is light-hearted and cheerful — yet very dark at the same time.
Which is a very Czech, isn’t it?
It is certainly worth watching, and guaranteed to makes you laugh while giving you something to think about along the way.
So check it out. After all, it’s on Youtube for free and you can’t beat the price.
You won’t even have to stick any coins in the slot to make it work.