Following the revolution, Czech society went through a whirlwind of change. Jiri Svoboda's new film Sametove Vrazi, Velvet Murderers, examines the shadow of the post-revolutionary euphoria. The film is based on the true story of five men whose drive to take advantage of the new market opportunities spun out of control and led them to commit a series of unprecedented gruesome murders for relatively insignificant amounts of money.
The murderers killed five people for money and property. Three bodies were found at the bottom of the Orlicky reservoir- two of which were stuffed into barrels. The first victim was killed for the equivalent of four thousand dollars. The second was murdered for about a thousand dollars, the third for gold that has not been found to this day. The fourth victim was the mother of one of the men and died while opening an explosive package- her son inherited her home which also operated as a brothel. The fifth and last victim was shot in his own home- his death brought the murderers no monetary gain. Director Jiri Svoboda even visited some of the murderers in jail and took an in-depth journey into the lives and minds of these men. I spoke to Prague film critic, Raymond Johnston about what makes this film unique on the Czech cinema scene:
"In the past few years the trend has been to ensemble dramas and mostly romantic comedies but there have been a few movies to address the darker side of life. Last year there was Bolero that was based on a crime story that was substantially changed and this follows up on that trend of looking at recent fairly violent incidences since the Velvet Revolution and trying to popularize them on the screen."
"This film and a few recent other ones seem to look towards a whole different set of influences, most the Czech films have looked back towards the 1960's and really been stuck in this New Wave mode or Post New Wave mode and this I think is looking much to influences of American television serials of things from cable TV of violent crime dramas from the UK. So it really is a new set of people looking on a new set of influences and bringing something to the film scene."
I also asked whether this film was likely to be popular beyond the borders of the Czech Republic, Raymond Johnston again:
"I think it will find international success but not in the same way that a lot of Czech films like Zelary, Up and Down and One Hand Can't Clap did. Those did really well on the international film festival circuit and got a lot of write ups in popular film magazines but I think this kind of film really finds it home on international cable stations and home video."