End of a Priest

Evald Schorm, 1968



Besides Zločin v šantánu (Crime in the Nightclub), in 1968 the writer Josef Škvorecký also contributed to the bitter comedy Farářův konec (The End of a Priest) as the author of the original idea and screenwriter. Together with the director Evald Schorm, he created a story whose protagonist is an inept sexton, who decides to leave his job in a big church in the city. He sets off for a new life in a remote mountain village, where by coincidence people are desperately looking for a priest to administer the last rites to someone. At first, the sexton tries in vain not to be considered part of a “miracle,” but in the end he reconciles himself to the role of new spiritual pastor – and because he performs the job judiciously with an understanding of human weakness, the quirky villagers soon take him to their hearts. The local schoolmaster, who is propagating an atheist education in the spirt of communist ideas, is strongly averse to this. Until now, he had been the village community’s celebrity. The self-assuredness of “healthy reason,” which the manipulative and careerist schoolmaster crows about, stands against the faith of a simple man who has humbly taken a coveted task upon himself. The teacher tries to discredit this false priest of obvious moral authority. Ultimately, he denounces him and causes a tragic finale… In The End of a Priest, Evald Schorm used a “theatre” framework – just like he did in his subsequent film Den sedmý – osmá noc (The Seventh Day – the Eighth Night, 1969). Whereas in The End of a Priest, a group of fairground comedians presents the plot of a modern broadside ballad, it is again possible to see it as a Passion Play that is a parable about the Soviet occupation. In both instances, it concerns a variation on the fate of Jesus. Škvorecký’s idea, however, is based on a newspaper article from that time about a man who pretended to be a priest somewhere in the Eagle Mountains. The meaningful setting of the story is a Czech village in the 1950s which becomes an allegory for the totalitarian system. Vlastimil Brodský and Jan Libíček excel in the lead roles in Schorm’s masterpiece. Josef Škvorecký himself played the small role of a professor appearing on television.
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About a film

film_production_year 1968
film_countries Czechoslovakia
film_genres allegory, tragicomedy
film_form feature
film_duration 95 min
film_director Evald Schorm
film_cast Vlastimil Brodský, Jan Libíček, Jana Brejchová, Zdena Škvorecká, Jaroslav Satoranský, Vladimír Valenta
film_director_of_photography Jaromír Šofr
film_screenplay Josef Škvorecký, Evald Schorm
film_film_editor Jiřina Lukešová
film_production_designer Jindřich Goetz
film_art_director Jan Schmid
film_music_composed_by Jan Klusák
film_sound_designer František Fabián