Such Is Life / The Story of a Prague Washerwoman

drama, social

Typology

feature

Lenght

long

Czech title

Takový je život

Runtime

75 min

Country

Czechoslovakia

Copyright

1929

Production year

1929

Premiere

09.05.1930

Language version

Czech

Director

Carl Junghans

Summary

Carl Junghans’ film captures the tragic story of an aging laundress whose drudgery and toil support a licentious and abusive alcoholic husband. A psychological drama with social themes, it draws from Zola’s novel, The Kill, and with full cinematic expression, a progressive approach to montage and emphasis on the symbolic power of close-ups, represents the climax of silent film. Despite the birth of the “talkie” in the late ‘20s, the film, influenced by a wave of social realism in European cinematography, was shot as a silent motion-picture, adversely effecting its financial success. Although its premiere in Czech theaters went almost unnoticed, it is recognized as a world class film from the peak of the era of silent film and, as such, was acknowledged by film historians in Brussels in 1958. For its re-lease in 1959, preserved film materials were reassembled by Elmar Klos, while original music, “tailored” to the production, was composed by Zdeněk Liška. An uncertain stretch of time in the gray life of a drunk laborer, his weary wife and their unhappy daughter, imprisoned by the director in the bleak surroundings of an imaginary city composed of cleverly chosen locations in Prague. Yet little attention was paid to the exterior unity of the sites. His Russian-style montage editing, based more upon associations of contiguous visual perceptions than on detailed logicality of approach, allow him to create any atmosphere he wishes without disturbing the lack of schematic clarity and coherence in both location and plot, a break from the custom so familiar in American films. [ah. (1930): Takový je život, Studio 2, no. 5 pg. 158]

Synopsis

The heroine of the film is a proletarian wife and mother. Her husband, a coalminer, seeks solace in alcohol and neglects his work. After he is sacked, he spends most of his time in the pub with his friends and his lover, a waitress. He wastes the money his wife earns as a washerwoman. The woman, with her work and her worries, doesn't even remember it is her birthday but her neighbours come to visit her to wish her happy birthday. Even this happy day ends in sadness: her husband comes home drunk. When he starts destroying their meagre furniture in a fit of rage, she throws him out. The man moves in with his lover. One day the wife badly scalds herself while washing some linen and after a few days she dies. The man comes home and prepares her a simple funeral which is attended by all the neighbours. After the funeral the husband holds a wake in the local inn. Then they all return to their homes as if nothing had happened. Such is life.

Note

The film was addapted in 1959 by director Elmar Klos who also added the sound track to the film. The music was composed by Zdeněk Liška (K-A 1823,8 m).

Cast

Theodor Pištěk

uhlíř, pradlenin manžel

Máňa Ženíšková

manikýrka, pradlenina a uhlířova dcera

Wolfgang Zilzer

nápadník uhlířovy dcery

Manja Kellerová

žena krejčího

Eman Fiala

pianista ve výčepu

Valeska Gert

číšnice

Uli Tridenskaja

sousedka, pradlenina přítelkyně

Betty Kysilková

výplatčí

Edith Ledererová

dcerka krejčího

Max Körner

majitel uhlířského závodu

Ludvík Veverka

zákazník u manikúry

Václav Žichovský

zákazník u manikúry

František Kreuzmann

ředitel salonu krásy

Božena Šupková

zákaznice u manikúry

Rudolf Lavecký

majitel salonu krásy

Viktor Nejedlý

hospodský

Zdena Kavková

animírka

Karel Šindler

tlustý muž ve výčepu

Milka Balek-Brodská

zaměstnavatelka pradleny

František Juhan

uhlíř

Alfred Schlesinger

host ve výčepu

Josef Kobík

host ve výčepu

Emil Šulc

host ve výčepu

Filip Balek-Brodský

host ve výčepu

Antonín Šolc

host ve výčepu

Eduard Šlégl

zřízenec pohřebního ústavu

Crew and creators

Screenstory

Carl Junghans

Screenplay

Carl Junghans

Production Designer

Ernst Meiwers

Film Editor

Carl Junghans

Cooperation

Elmar Klos (úprava a ozvučení 1959)

Music

Music Composed by

Zdeněk Liška (ozvučení 1959), Jan Burian ml. (ozvučení restaurované verze 2016)

Production info

Original Title

Takový je život

English Title

Such Is Life / The Story of a Prague Washerwoman

Working Title

Pradlena

Parallel Title

Román pražské pradleny

Category

film

Typology

feature

Genre

drama, social

Origin country

Czechoslovakia

Copyright

1929

Production Year

1929

Premiere

09.05.1930

Copyright Holders

Národní filmový archiv

Distribution

Starfilm (původní 1930), Ústřední půjčovna filmů (obnovená 1959), Národní filmový archiv (obnovená 2016)

Technical info

Lenght

long

Runtime

75 min

Versions

Czech

Subtitles

Czech Intertitles

Revue

Carl Junghans

<b>Carl Junghans is known mainly for the “swan song of silent film”, </b><b>Takový je život (Such is Life)</b><b>, which...