Vesna, 1953

Composed as a lyrical comedy of errors, Frantisek Cáp’s charming and whimsical Vesna chronicles the misadventures of handsome university student and glider pilot Samo (Franek Trefalt) and his mischievous friends Kristof (Jure Furlan) and Sandi (Janez Cuk) as they try to hatch a plan for passing their mathematics professor’s (Stane Sever) final exam – that is, short of actually studying – by wooing his seemingly frumpy daughter. With their romantic and academic fates hinging on a coin toss, Samo’s bad luck soon relegates him to the reluctant task of meeting “Vesna” (Metka Gabrijelcic) who, as it turns out, is an attractive young woman bearing little resemblance to the one his friends had spotted earlier with the professor. With his fortune now turned by a much welcomed case of mistaken identity, Samo and his friends quickly lose sight of their ulterior motive and are smitten by the lovely young woman, leaving Samo completely distracted from his studies with only days before the finals, and his friends scrambling to concoct their own schemes to win her heart. Representing only the sixth film to be made in Slovenia, Vesna would go on to become one of the country’s most popular and beloved films of all time, widely regarded as capturing the essence of the Slovenian people in their gentility and easygoing manner, even during acts of mischief and adolescent rebellion. However, as Slovenian film scholar Joseph Valencic points out during the introduction for the film, the idea that the country’s most quintessentially Slovenian film was actually directed by a Czech expatriate would also lead to its share of criticism, often painting the film as a nostalgic vision of Cáp’s youth in Prague rather than an earnest attempt (albeit by an “outsider”) to capture the spirit of the Slovenian people. In a way, Cáp’s depiction is an idealization of youth itself, where romanticism and a sense of adventure converge to create a spirit of optimism and infinite possibility that, like the youthful idealism of Vesna, transcends all human borders.

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