Review: Kdo chce zabít Jessii? (1966)

Directed by Václav Vorlíček, 1966.

Since I’m writing my master thesis on the socio-political relevance of the superhero movies of the 21st century, I felt required to watch those last few remaining superhero movies that I haven’t seen yet. After a week filled with small superhero movie gems from the early years of cinema, including early renditions of Superman (1951), Batman (1966), and Spider-Man (1977) I watched Václav Vorlíček’s Czech movie”Kdo chce zabít Jessii? (or: “Who Wants to Kill Jessie?”).

The film breaks with the domestic conventions of everyday life under the highly oppressive Communist regime in Czechoslovakia. A scientist finds new inspiration in a series of Jessie-comic books (illustrated by comic book artist Kája Saudek) after which his wife and fellow scientist accidentally manifest his dreams: Jessie and the two archenemies are brought into the real world. Playboy cover girl Olga Schoberová takes on the role of what might just be the first cinematic superheroine ever and Juraj Visny plays a joyfully evil version of Superman. The film brilliantly brings the conventions of comic books into the real world, including text balloons and sound effects. Vorlíček goal was ‘to make the Czech people collectively aware that they were participants in a system of oppression and incompetence which had brutalized them all.’ Blissfully amoral and a little weird, Kdo chce zabít Jessii? is definitely worth a watch!

Official poster (Credit: Kdo chce zabít Jessii?)

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