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Akhtar, S. (2001). Interweaving the Intrapsychic, the Interpersonal, and the Sociopolitical: Jan Sverak's Kolya. J. Appl. Psychoanal. Stud., 3(1):77-83.

(2001). Journal of Applied Psychoanalytic Studies, 3(1):77-83

OriginalPaper: Film Reviews

Interweaving the Intrapsychic, the Interpersonal, and the Sociopolitical: Jan Sverak's Kolya

Review by:
Salman Akhtar, M.D.

Kolya (1996)

Portobello Pictures

Director: Jan Sverak

Czech with English subtitles

Running time: 105 minutes

Winner of the 1996 Best Foreign Language Film Oscar, Jan Sverak's Kolya shows how spending time with a five year old boy alters the life of a middle-aged bachelor forever. Set in 1988 Prague, the story of this seriocomic encounter unfolds against the backdrop of Czech opposition of the Soviet military presence in the country. The director uses the intrapsychic, the interpersonal, and the sociopolitical dimensions of the story as independent vectors as well as symbolic foils for each other. The result is a rich depiction of human life that tackles the wide-ranging issues of schizoid isolation, unresolved Oedipus, grief, illegal immigration, cross-cultural dialogue, and political uprising. Each issue comes with its own epigramatic polarity: psychic aliveness versus deadness (schizoid phenomena), erotic civility and fertility versus generational transgression and sterility (Oedipus), naked loss versus soothing substitution (grief), respect versus disrespect of law and boundaries (immigration), empathy versus misunderstanding (cross-cultural dialogue), and autonomy versus subservience (political uprising). Jan Sverak handles these polarities like a deft puppeteer, letting them evolve gradually over the course of the movie's narrative. He also conveys them through certain formal devices (e.g.,

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