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Eduard Grecner

Dragon's Return (Drak sa vracia)

Director Eduard Grecner Cast Radovan Lukavský, Gustáv Valach, Emília Vásáryová
Edition 2024
85' - 1968 - Drama - Dialogue: Czech, Slovak

Dragon’s Return is a well-kept secret masterpiece of Slovak cinema. In collaboration with the Slovak Film Institute, this spectacular drama is presented in VIDEODROOM 2024 with a new soundtrack written and performed live by avant-garde composer/guitarist Oren Ambarchi.

15
Tuesday October
20:00 Vooruit-Theaterzaal

About the film
When a strange man - nicknamed ‘Dragon’ - unexpectedly returns to the village that outcasted him years before, a series of dramatic events unfolds, leaving no one untouched. Set in an undefined time or place – is it medieval, the present or some kind of dystopia - it is filled to the brim with stunning imagery. Dragon’s Return infuses even the calmest scenes with a discomforting sense of almost apocalyptic menace, while the Slovak mountainous landscape provide a spiritual backdrop.

This ancient tragedy emphasises visual or extra-verbal narration through the work of its cinematographer Vincent Rosinec, who prefers to focus on the texture of the objects rather than dramatic situations, favouring black and white symbolism over realism. Eduard Grečner as a director approaches his characters in a rather distant, stylized manner, not striving for objectivity. In Grečner's interpretation, Dragon’s Return is a symbol of timeless loneliness, where "hell is other people”.

Though largely filmed on bright open air sets, the film’s mood is oppressive and claustrophobic. A Slovak western almost, a hypnotic and meditative fairytale that stands shoulder to shoulder with the best work of Béla Tarr, Werner Herzog and Andrej Tarkovsky. Released in 1967, just before the Soviet invasion put a stop to the formal experimentation that had so flourished in Slovak cinema. Because of the difficult political situation that followed the Prague Spring, the film was not distributed beyond the borders and thus never reached the world wide audiences it so clearly deserved.

It took until 2015, when Second Run released the film on blu ray, that Western audiences finally had a chance to see Grečner’s unique film.

"A ballad about love, hate and finding a way out of loneliness. Folklore meets avant-garde in an ancient drama, a story of the reclusive potter Martin, called the Dragon, whom the superstitious villagers believe to be the origin of all evil. They have taken away his love, his home, his freedom. Years later, Dragon returns to his home village to come to terms with the past, but the abyss is insurmountable." - Rastislav Steranka, Slovak Film Institute

About Oren Ambarchi & Fredrik Rasten
Oren Ambarchi's music fuses modern electronics, minimalism, and rock, creating unique soundscapes that blend delicate textures with deep bass tones. Since the late '90s, his guitar experiments have evolved to incorporate a wide range of instruments. Albums like Grapes From the Estate showcase his use of glass harmonica, strings, bells, and more, crafting ethereal yet powerful compositions.

Ambarchi has collaborated with diverse artists, including Fennesz, Sunn O))), John Zorn, and Merzbow. He has released numerous recordings on labels such as Touch, Editions Mego, and Tzadik. His trio with Keiji Haino and Jim O’Rourke performs annually in Tokyo, with many shows released on his Black Truffle label, which boasts over 90 releases.

For the Dragon’s Return soundtrack, Ambarchi will be joined by Fredrik Rasten on twelve-string guitar. Rasten, based in Oslo and Berlin, explores just intonation and sound phenomena, using real-time retuning, vocal shadings, and preparations to create rich, resonant harmonies.

Image gallery

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Credits

Directors

Eduard Grecner

Cast

Radovan Lukavský, Gustáv Valach, Emília Vásáryová

Scenario

Eduard Grecner

Director of Photography

Vincent Rosinec

Editors

Bedrich Voderka

More info

Dialogue

Czech, Slovak

Countries of production

Czechoslovakia

Screenplay based on

"Drak sa vracia" (Dobroslav Chrobak)

Year

1968