The Valley of the Bees (1968) – The Cross or The Cock?

In his best-known work – The Essence of Christianity (1848) – the Bavarian philosopher and anthropologist Ludwig Feuerbach argues that religion is a form of psychological projection as humanity created God as a means of externalising such basic human values as benevolence, love and the ability to do as one pleases. Religion is the process through which values are stripped from individual things and rendered abstract for the purposes of worship and contemplation. God is nothing more than Man; he is the projection of our inner nature and our most basic desires. According to Feuerbach, this process has become increasingly problematic over the years as people now prize the abstract construct over the values themselves. God was supposed to be a means, but now he has become an end.

Frantisek Vlácil’s film Údolí vcel (a.k.a. The Valley of the Bees) is an examination of what happens when people project their desires onto abstract entities only to forget that these entities are not actually real. Set in medieval Bohemia, the film tells the story of one knight’s love for another knight and how, by projecting that love onto God, something as simple and human as wonderful as love can be distorted into something truly monstrous.

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