Divine Ema

Jiří Krejčík, 1979

Film at Filmový přehled


One of the highpoints of director Jiří Krejčík’s filmography was the biopic inspired by the life of the opera singer Ema Destinnová (aka Emmy Destinn, 1878–1930). In cooperation with the writer and screenwriter Zdeněk Mahler, the then 61-year-old Krejčík returned to the spotlight in 1979 after years working in television with a film that told a topical story against a historical backdrop. Božská Ema (Divine Ema) used the dramatic life of the celebrated diva to deliver a patriotic message about the need for inner freedom in a world of suspicion, betrayal, and the totalitarian application of power. The protagonist of this stylish tale is the great Czech dramatic singer Ema Destinnová, who deservedly won plaudits all over the world. Even though the First World War is raging in Europe, the singer decides to return home to Bohemia from the United States, despite warnings not to do so from those closest to her. Once she arrives, however, she is placed under constant supervision by the Austro-Hungarian police because of her sympathy for the anti-Austrian resistance. Nonetheless, the unshakeable patriot refuses under duress to serve those whom she views as the oppressors of her beloved country… This award-winning film on the life and times of Destinnová – played with feeling by the Slovak actress Božidara Turzonovová – does not restrict itself solely to the protagonist’s civic and political activities. The beautiful opera singer’s passionate romances also play an important role, particularly her relationship with the attractive forester Viktor, played by another Slovak, Juraj Kukura. The cinematographer Miroslav Ondříček helped Krejčík create a convincing vision of the world at the turn of the last century. The stubborn commitment of all those involved in making Divine Ema is borne out by the fact that the production designer Jindřich Goetz secretly borrowed some sets and props from the Antonín Dvořák biopic Koncert na konci léta (Concert at the End of Summer), which was also being shot by František Vlačil in Barrandov Studios at the same time and was set in the same historical period.
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Film data

About a film

Production year 1979
Countries Czechoslovakia
Categories film
Genres biography
Form feature
Duration 107 min
Director Jiří Krejčík
Cast Božidara Turzonovová, Juraj Kukura, Jiří Adamíra, Miloš Kopecký, Josef Somr, Čestmír Řanda
Director of photography Miroslav Ondříček, Jiří Šámal
Screenplay Zdeněk Mahler, Jiří Krejčík
Editor Miroslav Hájek
Production designer Jindřich Goetz
Artist Karel Laštovka
Music Zdeněk Liška, Svatopluk Havelka
Sound designer Adolf Böhm, Jiří Zobač