How Honza Almost Became a King

Bořivoj Zeman, 1977

Film at Filmový přehled


Bořivoj Zeman is today assured of his place in the history of Czech fairy tales thanks to the cult films Pyšná princezna (The Proud Princess, 1952) and Byl jednou jeden král (Once Upon a Time, There Was a King, 1954). In 1968, he added to these movies with the fairy tale musical Šíleně smutná princezna (Incredibly Sad Princess), in which the lead roles were played by Helena Vondráčková and Václav Neckář, who were popstars at the time. The storybook tale Honza málem králem (How Honza Almost Became a King) tries to follow up on this success by casting Jiří Korn in the lead role (although the popular singer was dubbed by Michal Pavlata.) The film, however, does not rely on musical numbers – it contains only three songs by Jiří Sternwald. Despite the fact that the screenwriter was Oldřich Kautský, as was the case for the aforementioned Zeman films from the 1950s, How Honza Almost Became a King from 1977 did not enjoy the same mass popularity as some of the director’s other movies (including, among others, two comedies about a curmudgeonly Prague ticket inspector Dovolená s Andělem (Holiday with Angel, 1952) and Anděl na horách (Angel in the Mountains, 1955)). In the last title from his filmography, the then 65-year-old screenwriter and director offered a comic variation on the classic story of Hloupý Honza (“Silly Honza” – a kind of Czech version of Simple Simon). In Zeman’s film, however, the folk hero turns out to be a clever and energetic young man, who teaches a lesson to a stingy farmer, a jealous royal drummer, and a conceited princess, who pretends to be mute and takes the lives of her suitors. However, even the light-hearted and convivial Honza comes to realise that his love for the simple village girl Mařenka is more important than adventure, property, a princess and half a kingdom… Some of the motifs in the story are vaguely reminiscent of the French costume drama romance Fanfan la Tulipe (1952). Besides casting Jiří Korn in his first major film role, the director also used experienced professionals. Naďa Konvalinková took the role of Mařenka, Honza’s mother was played by Marie Glázrová, the part of the proud princess was filled by Jorga Kotrbová, and her father, the king, was played by František Filipovský.
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Film data

About a film

Production year 1977
Countries Czechoslovakia
Categories film
Genres fairytale
Form feature
Duration 86 min
Director Bořivoj Zeman
Cast Jiří Korn, Naďa Konvalinková, Marie Glázrová, Jorga Kotrbová, František Filipovský
Director of photography Ivan Šlapeta
Screenplay Oldřich Kautský, Bořivoj Zeman
Editor Josef Dobřichovský
Production designer Oldřich Bosák
Music Jiří Sternwald
Sound designer František Černý