It may just as well be mentioned at the outset that the Czech Václav Marhouls The Painted Bird is hardly a movie for everyone. Not because it is a nearly three-hour-long feature film in black and white, although it will certainly deter some, but because the content is so decidedly strict.

The first scene shows the main character, a Jewish boy (Petr Kotlár) who in large parts of the story remains both dumb and nameless, while being chased by a group of other children. They catch him again and turn on the little animal he has tried to save from them. However, this is only the beginning of a long series of gruesome events the young boy will experience during the film.

Bestial episodes

When he discovers that his older aunt is dead, the boy in confusion sets fire to the cabin the two live in. After this, he sets off on foot alone through a number of villages and scattered populated areas in Eastern Europe.

The Painted Bird takes place during World War II, which the people in the film as well as their mentality are strongly influenced by. The boy is at the mercy of the people he meets on the journey, but most often these have less good intentions – and are responsible for several of the aforementioned atrocities. . .

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