Morgiana is a product of the Czechoslovakian new wave. It's a turn of the century melodrama that has elements of Gothic horror. It's about two sisters, Klára and Viktorie. The former is good hearted and the other is wicked. The story begins with the death of their father and the reading of his will. Unsurprisingly, his inheritance favours Klára, much to Victorie's displeasure. Her uncontrolled jealousy drives her to try and murder her sister with a hard-to-detect slow-acting poison but events do not pan out quite as planned.
The most obvious film to compare this one to is Valerie and Her Week of Wonders, the wonderful dark fantasy film from a couple of years earlier. It too, was a product of the Czechoslovakian new wave and both films share a similar aesthetic. While Valerie is the more visually striking, Morgiana is a very beautiful film too. Its female characters wear intense make-up and over-the-top elaborate costumes. Very garish and almost grotesque at times, the look is very reminiscent of characters from a fairy tale, which is an aspect that Morgiana definitely shares with Valerie.
The Central European ambiance certainly counts for a lot in this movie and from the outset it's pretty evident with an opening credit sequence replete with surreal paintings of the type very much associated with this part of the world. The slightly unreal and fantastic feeling is maintained throughout the movie, with melodramatic acting, garish décor and unusual outdoor locations such as the elaborate gardens and the standing stones near the cliff. The look is accentuated further by the use of fish-eye lenses and even agitated camera-work from the point-of-view of Morgiana the cat! The score from Lubos Fiser is extremely effective too, capturing the dark tone very well. As far as dramatics are concerned, it's essentially a tale of two sisters and both are played by the same actress, Iva Janzurová. She is so convincing that, when watching, I thought it must be two different real sisters in these roles.
Morgiana is a real treat for anyone who appreciates Gothic cinema, particularly those who loved the Czechoslovakian ambiance of Valerie and Her Week of Wonders. It's a visually enchanting film and one that should certainly be seen by a wider audience.