This Czech import written and directed by Tomas Weinreb and Petr Kazda is based on the real case of a young woman who deliberately committed an act of terror in 1973 by deliberately driving into a crowd in Prague with the result that eight people were killed and many injured. Bleakly shot in black and white, the film is a case in point of how insanity simmers in a person with outward indications along the way, but is not addressed and there is an eventual lethal consequence.
Olga, played with chilling understatement by Michalina Olszanská, imagines herself a victim of bullying and builds psychotic resentment until she wants her act to be a statement against the bullying of others in what she perceives as a hostile world. She is not attached to any political or terrorist movement. Her revenge is strictly personal.
She was found guilty, sentenced to death and eventually hanged in 1975, the last women who was executed in Czechoslovakia. At her trial she asked for the death penalty, her way of committing suicide.
But afterward in the year before her death, Olga’s split personality emerges and she sees another self who she believes can live on even after hanging. By the time of her execution, she is depicted screaming and desperately not wanting to die.
The film which holds one’s attention throughout for the way Olga and those around her are depicted, and although her act cannot be excused, we see the horror of the death penalty itself and its use as an answer to a madwoman’s actions.
While this case has no political connection, it underscores the difficulty in various situations of trying to prevent someone who is deeply disturbed and finds an outlet, perhaps in a terrorist organization, and committing a murderous act. The world is undoubtedly full of such individuals. The trouble is the problem of taking preventative action before a disaster. Of course, the majority of such sick individuals can go through life without harming anyone.
“I, Olga Hepnarova” sets one thinking while following the trajectory of this very disturbed young woman going through resentment against parents, unhappy lesbian encounters and her ultimate decision to seek retribution. An Outsider Pictures and Strand Releasing release. Reviewed March 25, 2017.