Parables II

film 3 of 6

The Hand

Film Review by Dean Duncan Jun 16, 2015

Think, first, of what you know about this place, at this time in history. That’s what The Hand is about. But because it’s not only timely, but timeless (cf. Hugh Nibley, 1978), then there’s also much more to it than just this particular regime, or that impending tragedy. Trnka’s work functions as pointed parable or as nightmare, the latter adding dire uncertainty to the former, the former adding dread practicality or even inevitability to the latter. His Everyman figure looks like a consumptive Pierrot—it’s Chaplin’s Tramp, whisked forward into a dire, blasted modernity, split between Kafka and Beckett.

Comparisons are helpful, and they are apt, but this work itself doesn’t really need them. If you don’t know the specifics, then you’ll still feel a powerful, more unspecified chill. The execution of this thing! The way that eponymous, unrelenting hand slips glancingly in, like sin or the velvet glove over the iron fist. That marionette/flight section is a thing of terrible beauty. The conclusion is terrible, terminal. The regime will have its way, or the absurd cruelty that stands as the only alternative to murderous regimes will have its way. Then they’ll twist it all around to their ends anyway. I guess Trnka never made another film! What more was there to say?