Theme and Setting
theme and setting of Soul at Peace are purely Slovak. Despite this, the
film transcends the geographical borders of its creation and appeals to
viewers abroad as well. It was my feature film debut but I hope that,
because of my experience directing documentaries, I was able to fully
exploit my previous experience in the telling of this story.
than trying to precisely capture the reality that is typical for
documentaries, my intention was to bring to the viewer a creative and
unique reflection on the times we live in. The film strives to reflect
the paradoxes of the period directly following accession to the European
Union and illustrate the contrast to national traditions.
The film tells a story about people living in Slovakia, a small country in the heart of Europe, at the beginning of the 21st century. The Slovak people are at once brooding and proud, and it is this pride, which does not allow them to show their emotions. Therefore, everyone has their own way of solving their personal dramas. In this story each character bears a share of the guilt. We all created our own unique, isolated system that helped us survive the years of communist dictatorship. And today it is harder and harder to break out of this system of relationships and structures.
shot the film in Čierny Balog, in a place where the mountains are
picturesque, but their steepness clearly parallels the locals’ tough
everyday life. On the other hand, through the character of Peter, we
show the dramatic contrast between the village and a fast-growing big
city that rapidly absorbs all negative and positive aspects of life,
typical of West European cities. Both the village and city struggle to
find their identities under the new conditions of our Central European
“Carpathian capitalism”. This issue is rather specific, yet highly
inspiring for citizens of Western Europe. My intention was to maintain
the authenticity of the settings with minimum embellishment and to
provide the viewer with a real feeling of the “here and now”.
Style and Form
seems as if the steep hills in this region have protected a tradition
that never fades. An urban visitor is impressed with the beauty and
romance of the region but does not see the everyday drama and often
unbelievable stories that take place behind the fences and doors of
ordinary houses. Behind every door you would find a tradition of
patriarchy and poaching, but also bonds of life-long friendship that are
so rare these days. The visual aspect of the film is not dominant – it
underlies and accentuates the storytelling. Shots of the picturesque
countryside alternate with scenes where the camera moves gently and,
just like an observer, watches the authentic story which unfolds unseen
behind the front door.
most important criterion was to choose actors that would be authentic
in their roles. We have four dominant male characters, all of them
around the age of forty. They all come from the rough, mountainous
countryside and their faces are untouched by male grooming products. We
can see every triumph and failure in their faces. Rather than choosing
popular faces I gave priority to excellent performances by actors that
may not yet be that famous. For the actors, each character is in fact
very complex and never one-dimensional.