Feast of Snowdrops

Jiří Menzel, 1983



A popular film in director Jiří Menzel’s sequence of adaptations of the stories of Bohumil Hrabal, Slavnosti sněženek (A Feast of Snowdrops, 1983) followed the extract Smrt pana Baltazara (The Death of Mr Baltazar, 1965) – which served as a short film in the anthology title Perličky na dně (Pearls at the Bottom, 1965) – Oscar winner Ostře sledované vlaky (Closely Watched Trains, 1966), Skřivánci na niti (Skylarks on a String, 1969), and the much admired Postřižiny (Cutting It Short, 1980). A collection of Hrabal’s short stories published in 1978 was used to create this tragicomic mosaic depicting the daily lives of several characters in the Central Bohemian town of Kersko, a place to which Hrabal had close ties. Both the seasonal inhabitants of local holiday properties and Kersko natives meet for a pint in the Hájenka pub, whose owner Láďa Novák (Jiří Schmitzer) and his wife enjoy a tumultuous relationship comprised of affection and argument in equal measure. Good-natured Mr. Leli (Jaromír Hanzlík) keeps spending money on useless “bargains” that are gradually filling up his house and garden. Mr Liman (Bořík Procházka) drives his goats to pasture in a luxury car and plays the clarinet to them while they graze. The tranquillity of the hamlet is disturbed by a wild boar hunt which culminates in the animal being shot dead in the local school. The hunt trophy then becomes a point of contention between hunters’ associations from the two neighbouring villages. The rising tensions only dissipate when the schoolteacher (played by Libuše Šafránková) wisely suggests that they organise a joint feast for the two associations. The feast nevertheless ends up in a drunken brawl… As with most of Hrabal’s stories, A Feast of Snowdrops, mixes poetry, absurdity and raw drama, including the death of the hapless Mr Leli. His surreal, needless departure is an isolated dark moment in the pattern of humour, playfulness and generosity that makes up both Hrabal’s literary template and Menzel’s film (the screenplay was a collaborative effort). The cast of A Feast of Snowdrops includes popular actors (Petr Čepek, Rudolf Hrušínský, Josef Somr) and even some popular directors (Jiří Krejčík plays the fat, voracious Karel, while František Vláčil was cast as an old huntsman). Bohumil Hrabal also made a cameo appearance as a local man painstakingly emptying a cesspit.
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About a film

film_production_year 1983
film_countries Czechoslovakia
film_genres comedy
film_form feature
film_duration 88 min
film_director Jiří Menzel
film_cast Rudolf Hrušínský, Jaromír Hanzlík, Josef Somr, Petr Čepek, Miloslav Štibich, Petr Brukner
film_director_of_photography Jiří Macák
film_screenplay Bohumil Hrabal, Jiří Menzel
film_film_editor Jiří Brožek
film_production_designer Zbyněk Hloch
film_music_composed_by Jiří Šust
film_sound_designer Karel Jaroš