The White Disease

drama, anti-war, allegory, psychological

Typology

feature

Czech title

Bílá nemoc

Runtime

105

Country

Czechoslovakia

Copyright

1937

Production year

1937

Premiere

21.12.1937

Language version

Czech

Director

Hugo Haas

Screenplay

Hugo Haas

Summary

This top work of art by actor and director Hugo Haas is a film adaptation of an allegorical play by Karel Čapek, which he had mastered as a then 36-year-old artist already on the theatre stage. As a screenwriter and director, Haas fulfilled a humanistic concept that in 1937 strongly resonated in a Europe engulfed by Nazi aggression. In the allegorical narrative, Haas plays the accomplished physician Galén, who discovers a cure for a disease known as "the white sickness". But he refuses to reveal the cure to the malicious Marshal (Zdeněk Štěpánek), who is waging a war of conquest on a neighbouring country... Unlike Čapek's novel, the film adaptation has a happy ending, connected to the figure of an ally of Galén's country – Dr. Martin (Jaroslav Průcha). Moreover, Haas's contemporary finale further emphasises the moral responsibility and redemptive role of intellectuals during dramatic, historic times.

Synopsis

The marshal provokes the men of his land to a war of aggression against the neighbouring country. The inhabitants accept his plans with enthusiasm, for according to the marshal's promises they will win fame and fortune in the war. In the meantime an incurable disease, called the white sickness, is spreading across the land. Dr. Galén, who treats the poor, discovers a cure and tests it in the clinic of Dr. Sigelius, the marshal's favorite. The results are excellent and Dr. Sigelius shamelessly accepts the credit for Galén's cure. But Galén will give out the process for preparing the cure only with the condition that preparations for the war be halted. The marshal refuses the condition and declares war. Thus Galén treats only the poor patients who have no share in the war. The marshal is stricken with the white sickness and only then is he willing to put an end to the fighting. He summons Galén, who hastens to the marshal's palace with the medication only to be killed by a militant throng. During the clash the ampule of medicine is broken. Nevertheless the marshal signs an order to end the fighting and speaks to the people about peace. The dead Galén is remembered by his friend, a doctor from the neighbouring country that was attacked. Before his death Galén had confided in him the secret of his cure and so the country can be saved.

Cast

Hugo Haas

MUDr. Galén

Karla Oličová

maršálova dcera Aneta

Bedřich Karen

dvorní rada profesor MUDr. Sigelius

Václav Vydra st.

baron Olaf Krog

Ladislav Boháč

Krogův synovec Pavel, maršálův pobočník

Jaroslav Průcha

MUDr. Martin, lékař z malé sousední země

Karel Dostal

ministr propagandy

Rudolf Deyl st.

vysoký úředník ministerského kabinetu

František Smolík

otec, účetní ředitel u Kroga

Helena Friedlová

matka, manželka účetního ředitele

Eva Svobodová

dcera účetního ředitele

Vítězslav Boček

syn účetního ředitele

Otto Rubík

maršálův pobočník

Vladimír Šmeral

první asistent kliniky

Miroslav Svoboda

druhý asistent kliniky

Marie Nademlejnská

matka druhého asistenta

Karel Jičínský

vysoký úředník ministerského kabinetu

Eduard Blažek

člen maršálovy družiny

Vilém Pruner

asistent na klinice

Frank Rose-Růžička

asistent na klinice

Vladimír Smíchovský

vrátný ve zbrojovce

Karel Jelínek

novinář

Jaroslav Tryzna

novinář

Jaroslav Vojta

pacient doktora Galéna

Emil Dlesk

pacient doktora Galéna

Fráňa Vajner

pacient doktora Galéna

Antonín Šolc

pacient doktora Galéna

Karolína Vávrová

pacientka doktora Galéna

Marie Bibikoffová

ošetřovatelka na klinice

Erna Ženíšková

ošetřovatelka na klinice

František Filipovský

pacient na klinice

Julius Baťha

muž z baronovy suity

Marie Holanová

zfanatizovaná žena z davu

Anči Pírková

zfanatizovaná žena z davu

Jan Šebor

zfanatizovaný mladík z davu

Jindřich Adolf

zfanatizovaný muž z davu

Crew and creators

Director

Hugo Haas

Assistant Director

Antonín Kubový

Based on

Karel Čapek (Bílá nemoc – divadelní hra)

Screenplay

Hugo Haas

Production Designer

Štěpán Kopecký

Set Designer

Arnold Reimann

Film Editor

Antonín Zelenka

Sound Designer

Vilém Taraba

Cooperation

Willy Ströminger (fotograf)

Music

Music Composed by

Jan Branberger

Selected Music

Ludwig van Beethoven (Symfonie č. 9 d moll /1. věta/)

Music Performed by

Orchestr F.O.K.

Music Conducted by

Karel Ančerl (Orchestr F.O.K.)

Production info

Original Title

Bílá nemoc

English Title

The White Disease

Copyright

1937

Production Year

1937

Premiere

21.12.1937

Production

Moldavia

Copyright Holders

Národní filmový archiv

Studio

AB Barrandov

Distribution

Moldavia (původní 1937), Státní půjčovna filmů (obnovená 1946), Ústřední půjčovna filmů (obnovená 1958), Národní filmový archiv (obnovená 2016)

Technical info

Versions

Czech

Awards

Vítěz

Festival: Festival restaurovaných a nalezených filmů s tematikou tolerance UNESCO Paříž

1995
Paříž / France
Národní filmový archiv

Revue

Czechoslovak science-fiction films

Only a handful of films which could be described as of the science fiction variety were made in Czechoslovakia prior to ...