Virgin and the Monster

Juraj Herz, 1978



In 1978, director Juraj Herz enriched the contemporary genre scene with two fairytale horror films – Deváté srdce (The Ninth Heart) and Panna a netvor (The Virgin and the Monster). Following his highly stylised features of the 1960s, the filmmaker was forced to express himself in terms of plain realism. So within his filmography, these two films constitute his return to the expressive style of Spalovač mrtvol (The Cremator, 1968), Petrolejové lampy (Oil Lamps, 1971) and Morgiana (Morgiana, 1972). While Deváté srdce was based on an original theme, the story of Panna a netvor is an adaptation of classic material, respectively František Hrubín’s play for the theatre inspired by the fairytale story of Beauty and the Beast. Otta Hofan adapted Hrubín’s text for the film, but Panna a netvor is most of all a demonstration of the director’s ability to construct a fanciful, poetically sombre and gloomy atmosphere. For financial reasons, Panna a netvor was shot in the same studio setting as Deváté srdce (Architect Vladimír Labský created multifunctional scenery in Barrandov’s Studio no. 6. After some alterations, it was also used for the features Tajemství ocelového města (The Secret of the Steel Town, 1978) and Kočičí princ (Cat Prince, 1979). Deváté srdce and Panna a netvor even shared the same budget. Despite the fact that some of the personnel worked on both features (for instance, cameraman Jiří Macháně and composer Petr Hapka), the horror story based on Hrubín’s work offers quite a different ambience. While Deváté srdce’s visual conception was created in collaboration with Jan and Eva Švankmajer, thanks to the artists Josef and Olga Vyleťal Panna a netvor offers a more “natural” impression… At the chateau in the deep woods, the heroine of the narration, the beautiful, impoverished daughter of a merchant, Julie (Zdena Studénková), experiences both a nightmarish and affectionate relationship with the mysterious beast. Despite the fact that the strange, cursed host eventually turns into a handsome prince, the beast has become the feature’s most impressive attraction. Herz rejected the canonical “lion” stylisation and instead created a bird monster, whose inhuman and beastly movements and gestures made it all the more convincing given the artistic ability of the motion picture’s big star, the dancer Vlastimil Harapes.
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About a film

film_production_year 1978
film_countries Czechoslovakia
film_genres horror, fairytale
film_form feature
film_duration 84 min
film_director Juraj Herz
film_cast Zdena Studenková, Vlastimil Harapes, Václav Voska, Jana Brejchová, Zuzana Kocúriková
film_director_of_photography Jiří Macháně
film_screenplay Ota Hofman, Juraj Herz
film_film_editor Jaromír Janáček
film_production_designer Vladimír Labský
film_art_director Josef Vyleťal, Olga Vyleťalová
film_music_composed_by Petr Hapka
film_sound_designer František Černý