Vlasta Čížková. Left: 23 years old, right: 101 years old. She was a cook in an airprot dining room and now lives in her own house in the same village as her family. She was in the truck that hit and killed high-ranking German Nazi official Reinhard Heydrich’s son Klaus in 1943. She was also arrested by communists in 1948. Jan Langer / mediadrumworld.com

By Mark McConville

POIGNANT portraits have posed centenarians alongside their younger selves in a project called Faces of Century.

 

Ludmila Vysloužilová. Left: 23 years old, right: 101 years old. She was a stewardess at the family farm and a nanny. She now lives in a terraced house in Celakovice. Her husband died 60 years ago and she has never remarried as she promised to be faithful to him and could never find a better man. Jan Langer / mediadrumworld.com

The incredible images tell the unique stories of each person’s life including one woman who was in the truck that hit and killed high-ranking German Nazi official Reinhard Heydrich’s son Klaus in 1943.

Another intriguing tale comes from a 101-year-old woman who decided to leave her luxury villa after turning 101 and burnt all material memories of her life including letters, diaries and photographs.

 

Marie Burešová. Left: 23 years old, right: 101 years old. She was a butcher and now lives in her own flat in Zlin. Her family still visit her every day. Jan Langer / mediadrumworld.com

She turned up at a long-term care home with nothing more than a bathrobe and a toothbrush. The extraordinary portrait photographs are the work of photographer Jan Langer (39) from Opava, Czech Republic.

“Nowadays, there are over one thousand two hundred 100-year-old Czechs,” he said.

 

Antonín Kovář. Left: 25 years old, right: 102 years old. He was a musician, film maker and driver and now lives in retirement home in Usti nad Labem. He wishes to play the clarinet once again. Jan Langer / mediadrumworld.com.

“In 50 years, their number will reach 14,000. How do these people see their life after such a period? Most those I approached agree that with advancing age life is faster; until, at last, the life will pass in a moment.

“Time is shrinking, as are the faces of the elders. I wondered what changes and what remains on a human face and in a human mind in such a long time.

 

Anna Pochobradská. Left: 30 years old, right: 100 years old. She was a farmer and now lives in a retirement home in Prelouc. Sadly, she now wishes to die. Jan Langer / mediadrumworld.com

“This set of comparative photos explores the similarities and the differences in appearance and in physiognomy. The characteristics of personality change throughout life but it seems as if individual nature remains rooted in the abyss of time.”

The centenarians of Czech Republic have many interesting stories to tell, having lived through WW1, WW2 including Nazi occupation, the Austrian Empire, the formation of their national state, a communist regime and occupation by Russia, the velvet revolution and the wild capitalism of the 90s which led to the boom of new technologies in the new millennium.

 

Ludvík Chybík. Left: 20 years old, right: 102 years old. He was a postman and now lives in a retirement home in Zlin. Jan Langer / mediadrumworld.com

Mr Langer, who used a Canon 5DII to shoot the pictures, got the idea to bring insight to the lives of seniors after a work assignment on elderly people and health reform in Czech Republic.

The photographer has been touched by his meetings with his nation’s centenarians and feels the pictures show how life is short.

 

Antonín Kovář. Left: 25 years old, right: 102 years old. He was a musician, film maker and driver and now lives in retirement home in Usti nad Labem. He wishes to play the clarinet once again. Jan Langer / mediadrumworld.com

“I have been always interested in the story behind, in the photographed people’s lives, in their feelings about their life that had been almost gone,” he explained.

“Life is too short to live it quickly and hurry to reach goals even though that may sound like nonsense.

 

Antonín Baldrman. Left: 17 years old, right: 101 years old. He was a clerk and now lives in a retirement home in Blansko. Jan Langer / mediadrumworld.com

“The moments that could be the ones you will remember at the end of your life come unobserved but they are usually not connected to our professional career.

“It is very often the part of our childhood or family relations that form our life frame at its end.

 

Vincenc Jetelina. Left: 30 years old, right: 105 years old. HE was a construction worker and now lives in his own home in South Moravia village. He spent 8 years in prison for being a district commissioner during WW2. Jan Langer / mediadrumworld.com

“That is why I try to enjoy relatively trivial moments with my family or the moments when I just stop myself in the middle of nothing but being conscious of that by all my senses regardless the time or space I am in.”

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