Star Is Falling Upwards

Ladislav Rychman, 1974

Film at Filmový přehled


In 1974 the experienced director Ladislav Rychman adapted the classic theatre play Strakonický dudák aneb Hody divých žen (Strakonice Piper, or A Feast of Eager Women) by Josef Kajetán Tyl for Hvězda padá vzhůru (A Star Is Falling Upwards), a fairy tale musical starring Karel Gott. In the hands of the screenwriters (Rychman, Václav Nývlt, Jiří Štaidl) Tyl’s National Revival paean to the Czech character was transformed into a modern fantasy in line with the mood of the normalisation era. Its hero – Jirka Švanda, a simple house painter from Strakonice – acquires miraculous singing talents thanks to the patronage of the Fates and slowly starts to win fame. He is exploited by the greedy hustler Vocilka (Josef Somr), who peddles the ever more successful singer to a foreign music label. However, in the glitzy world of showbiz even the naïve Švanda sees the light, refusing to become mere commercial fodder and returning to his homeland, to his fans and his beloved Dorotka (Jitka Molavcová)… Though based on a piece of classic literature, the film draws a peculiar parallel to Gott’s own emigration in 1971 (the popular singer returned to his homeland from West Germany at the request of Gustáv Husák, then general secretary of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia). In the 1960s Rychman helmed one of the greatest Czech music films – Starce na chmelu (Hop-Pickers) (1964). He also experimented with the musical form in the intimate tragicomedy Dáma na kolejích (The Lady of the Lines) (1966). With A Star Is Falling Upwards he was tasked with making a stand-in for the Western musicals that were banned from Czechoslovak screens. Though he could draw on Ladislav Štaidl’s catchy songs and the slightly narcissistic presentation of Karel Gott as a “singer of the people”, the resulting picture creates a rather bizarre impression in the contemporary context. The very morality of a passive hero who obtains fame, fortune and a trip to the capitalist West through no endeavour of his own – but merely thanks to fairy tale-style magic – is problematic.
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Film data

About a film

Production year 1974
Countries Czechoslovakia
Categories film
Genres musical
Form feature
Duration 133 min
Director Ladislav Rychman
Cast Karel Gott, Jitka Molavcová, Josef Somr, Jiří Sovák, Vladimír Ráž
Director of photography Jan Kališ
Screenplay Václav Nývlt, Ladislav Rychman, Jiří Štaidl
Editor Miroslav Hájek
Production designer Oldřich Bosák
Music Ladislav Štaidl
Sound designer Miloslav Hůrka, Jiří Zobač