The Painted Bird (Nabarvené ptáce) | Denver Film Society | Václav Marhoul | Czech Republic

The Painted Bird

Nabarvené ptáce

Václav Marhoul

Historical/Period, Jewish, War

CzechEnglish SubtitlesCzech Republic2019169 min


No upcoming showtimes scheduled.


Based on the eponymous 1965 novel by Polish-born author Jerzy Kosinski, this Czech period drama has already garnered notoriety equal to that of its controverisal source material—as well as praise for its unsparing look at the collective derangement that takes hold in the aftermath of war.

In the closing days of World War II, an unnamed boy is entrusted by his persecuted parents to an elderly foster mother. When the old woman dies, he is left on his own to wander aimlessly through the countryside, seeking shelter and kindness in villages and farmhouses. Instead, he’s met with a litany of sadistic acts, including rape, mutilation, and bestiality. Some he witnesses, silently and numbly, while others are perpetrated upon him; some are committed by battle-hardened soldiers, others by seemingly ordinary folks—millers (Udo Kier), priests (Harvey Keitel)—who prove among the cruelest offenders. Screenwriter-director Václav Marhoul hews to Kosinski’s narrative faithfully, capturing ever-increasing levels of brutality in incongruously beautiful black-and-white.

Sponsored by Silva Insurance

Producer: Aleksandr Kushaev, Václav Marhoul | Editor: Ludek Hudec | Cinematographer: Vladimír Smutn | Screenwriter: Václav Marhoul, Jerzy Kosinski
Cast: Stellan Skarsgård, Harvey Keitel, Barry Pepper, Julian Sands, Udo Kier, Jitka Cvancarová
Additional Countries: Slovakia, Ukraine