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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Watch a trailer for Václav Marhoul's controversial World War II drama, The Painted Bird

Illustration for article titled Watch a trailer for Václav Marhouls controversial World War II drama, iThe Painted Bird/i
Screenshot: YouTube

Harvey Keitel, Stellan Skarsgard, Udo Kier, and Barry Pepper round out the cast of controversial Czech Republic drama The Painted Bird, an adaptation of Jerzy Kosiński’s 1965 novel that, per reports, saw audience members at the Toronto International Film Festival bailing due to its depictions of graphic violence.


The reviews are nevertheless strong for Václav Marhoul’s film, which follows a child as he travels across Eastern Europe as World War II draws to a close. It was Czech Republic’s official Oscar submission for Best International Feature Film, but failed to score a nomination, likely due to the voting committee preferring JoJo Rabbit’s approach to the atrocities of war.

Watch the trailer, which adequately portrays its grim, despairing tone, below.

Here’s a synopsis:

Based on the acclaimed Jerzy Kosiński novel, The Painted Bird is a meticulous 35mm black and white evocation of wild, primitive Eastern Europe at the bloody close of World War II. The film follows the journey of The Boy, entrusted by his persecuted parents to an elderly foster mother. The old woman soon dies and the Boy is on his own, wandering through the countryside, from village to village, farmhouse to farmhouse. As he struggles for survival, The Boy suffers through extraordinary brutality meted out by the ignorant, superstitious peasants and he witnesses the terrifying violence of the efficient, ruthless soldiers, both Russian and German.


IFC Films will release The Painted Bird in theaters beginning on April 17.

Randall Colburn is The A.V. Club's Internet Culture Editor. He lives in Chicago, occasionally writes plays, and was a talking head in Best Worst Movie, the documentary about Troll 2.

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