Věra Chytilová, 1980

Film at Filmový přehled


Věra Chytilová confirmed her outstanding form in the 1980s with the stylised pictures Faunovo velmi pozdní odpoledne (Faun's Delayed Afternoon) (1983) and Kopytem sem, kopytem tam (Tainted Horseplay) (1988). Building on her work in the 1970s, at the start of the decade the award-winning filmmaker also shot Kalamita (Calamity), a comedy with a casual tone. As with Chytilová’s other work, the story of a young train driver was the result of compromises the director had won in defiance of Barrandov’s dramaturges. The studio had offered her the project as there was little interest in the material in view of the tough winter exterior shoot. The director rewrote Josef Šilhavý’s screenplay, turning a “consolidation” story of university students finding a new meaning of life among railway workers into a bitterly amusing parable about contemporary Czechoslovakia. This meant the film’s genesis faced dangers not only from the unpredictable elements but also censorship and pressure. It was released without an advertising campaign and was eventually banned in Prague after drawing large audiences. Instead of a snowy idyll Chytilová, whose father owned a train station pub, produced an authentic work filled with ambiguous anti-regime “catchphrases”. Not only the hero Honza Dostál but several other characters found themselves in “calamitous” life situations that are revealed as a common – societal – problem in the final scene in a snow-covered train. Cinematographer Ivan Šlapeta and editor Jiří Brožek made a huge contribution to the film’s edgy, provocatively unpolished form. Chytilová gave the then 23-year-old Bolek Polívka his first big break in the main role. Alongside him as the unscrupulous Majka was Polívka’s colleague from the Divadlo na provázku theatre, Dagmar Bláhová, who had excelled in the director’s Hra o jablko (Apple Game) (1976). Chytilová’s interest in actors used to improvisation from small theatres outside Prague (Brno’s Divadlo na provázku and Ypsilonka, originally from Liberec) was confirmed by the casting of Jana Synková, Jaroslava Kretschmerová, Jan Schmid and Jiří Pecha.
Read more

Film data

About a film

Production year 1980
Countries Czechoslovakia
Categories film
Genres comedy, morality
Form feature
Duration 96 min
Director Věra Chytilová
Cast Boleslav Polívka, Dagmar Bláhová, Jana Synková, Marie Pavlíková, Klára Emingerová
Director of photography Ivan Šlapeta
Screenplay Josef Šilhavý, Věra Chytilová
Editor Jiří Brožek
Production designer Bohumil Pokorný
Music Laco Déczi
Sound designer Jiří Kříž