A Higher Principle

Country

Czechoslovakia

Copyright

1960

Production year

1959—1960

Premiere

23 September 1960

Runtime

102 min

Category

film

Genre

drama

Typology

featuretheatrical distributionlong

Original title

Vyšší princip

Czech title

Vyšší princip

English title

A Higher Principle

Summary

This psychological drama made by Jiří Krejčík in 1960 is one of the most acclaimed titles in Czech cinema. It was based on a story of the same name from the collection Němá barikáda (The Silent Barricade). The author of the story inspired by real events was Jan Drda, and he also participated in the screenplay for this impressive work. The film, which eschews the schematic norms of the time, is based on the murder of a 16-year-old Příbram gymnast, Antonín Stočes, who was arrested and executed during the backlash to the Heydrich assassination for speaking out against Nazi despotism. Although the story focuses on the relentlessly heroic gesture of a class teacher (the Latin scholar Málek, brilliantly played by František Smolík) toward three arrested students, it also finds room for the attitudes of the other members of small-town society. Krejčík’s sparingly conceived masterpiece is therefore not an ode to an idealised Czech character or even a homage to classic moral values, but an implacable study of the conscience of a nation, which historically only rarely showed unity in the fight against the enemy.

Synopsis

It's June 1942. The Acting Reich Protector of Bohemia and Moravia Heydrich is assassinated and the Nazis terrorize the people in the Protectorate. The secondary school 6th grade students in the small town pay no attention to politics, the graduation exams are much more important to them. The Gestapo man Wolf orders that a humorous graduation tableau be taken out of the shop window of the local bookshop. A newspapers mourning the assassination is published. The 6th grade student Ryšánek paints a moustache on the photograph of Heydrich and his friends in the class are laughing. But Havelka warns them about the danger of their provocation and they throw away the newspaper. Jana Skálová asks Ryšánek, a talented friend from her class, to help her with her Latin. A fragile love afair starts between the two young people. The son of the local collaborator Zajíček doesn't graduate because of his poor marks. In revenge, he denounces his three classmates Ryšánek, Havelka and Moučka to the Gestapo, giving them the proof, the newspaper covered with drawing. The 6th grade class teacher, Málek, is an old man living in the world of the Antique. But the arrest of his three pupils disturbs him deeply and the teacher bravely intervenes for them with the local Gestapo commander. Despite the promises of the Nazi officer, the three boys are executed for their "approval of the assassination". Málek should condemn the act of his pupils. Instead, he calls their execution a murder in front of the whole class. The pupils stand up at their desks in sympathy with the teacher's attitude.

Cast

František Smolík

třídní profesor Málek, klasický filolog

Jana Brejchová

studentka Jana Skálová

Ivan Mistrík

student Vlastimil Ryšánek

Jan Šmíd

student František Havelka

Alexandr Postler

student Karel Moučka

Petr Kostka

student Honza Horák

Radovan Lukavský

profesor Vondráček

Václav Lohniský

profesor Richter, němčinář

Marie Lukášová

profesorka gymnázia

Miroslav Svoboda

profesor gymnázia

Gustav Hilmar

profesor Václav Vandas, češtinář

Bohuš Záhorský

ředitel gymnázia

Marie Vášová

pradlena Ryšánková, Vlastimilova matka

Otomar Krejča

advokát Jan Skála, Janin otec

Hannjo Hasse

vrchní komisař gestapa Worlitzek

František Pálka

gestapák Wolf

Nora Houfová

německá sekretářka Kebrdlová

Rudolf Hrušínský

kolaborant Alois Zajíček

Bedřich Prokoš

oficiál Havelka, Františkův otec

Marie Glázrová

Skálova žena, Janina matka

Věra Tichánková

hospodyně Mrázková

Zuzana Stivínová

studentka Vlasta Stejskalová

Stanislava Seimlová

Trudi, komisařova žena

Vladimír Hlavatý

truhlář Moučka, Karlův otec

Karel Pavlík

knihkupec Stejskal, Vlastin otec

Josef Kozák

starý muž

Jiří Kodet

student Zajíček, kolaborantův syn

Elena Hálková

Havelková, matka Františka a Hanky

Naděžda Gajerová

Hanka, Františkova sestra

Blažena Slavíčková

služka Boženka

Jan Skopeček

příslušník SS

Štěpán Bulejko

důstojník SS

Karel Enzmann

četník

Václav Švec

dělník v truhlárně

Rudolf Široký

dělník v truhlárně

Míša Staninec

komisařův syn Günter

Jitka Frantová

služka u Worlitzka

Jan Kühnmund

vykonavatel exekuce

J. Müller

student

Dubbing

Jiří Šrámek

hlas z rozhlasu

Jindřich Narenta

hlas z rozhlasu

Crew and creators

Second Unit Director

Věra Ženíšková

Assistant Director

Miroslav Kubišta

Continuity

Dagmar Perlová

Based on

Jan Drda (Vyšší princip – povídka)

Director of Photography

Jaroslav Tuzar

Production Designer

Karel Škvor

Assistent Production Designer

Oldřich Okáč

Set Designer

Václav Štědronský

Costume Designer

Erna Veselá

Assistant Film Editor

Růžena Hejsková

Sound Designer

Jiří Pavlík

Assistant Sound Designer

Václav Kliegel

Production Manager

František Milič

Unit Production Manager

Věra Kadlecová

Unit Production Manager

Eva Kučerová

Cooperation

František Schwarz (vrchní osvětlovač), Karel Ješátko (fotograf), Josef Kříž (ateliérový technik)

Music

Music Composed by

Zdeněk Liška

Music Performed by

FISYO (Music Conducted by František Belfín)

Production info

Original Title

Vyšší princip

Czech Title

Vyšší princip

English Title

A Higher Principle

Category

film

Typology

featuretheatrical distribution

Genre

drama

Origin country

Czechoslovakia

Copyright

1960

Production Year

1959—1960

Production specifications

literary Screenplay approved 12 August 1959
start of filming 3 October 1959
end of filming 19 January 1960
projection approval 31 March 1960

Premiere

preview 16 September 1960 (kino Sevastopol /1 týden/, Praha)
premiere 23 September 1960 /suitable for youths/ (kina Lucerna /5 týdnů/, Arbes /1 týden/, Dukla /1 týden/, Flora /1 týden/, Kyjev /1 týden/, Oko /1 týden/, Revoluce /1 týden/, Vzlet /1 týden/, Odboj /1 týden od 30. 9./, Radost /1 týden od 7. 10./, Mír /1 týden od 14. 10./ a Aero /1 týden od 21. 10./, Praha)

Copyright Holders

Národní filmový archiv

Studio

Hostivař

Creative Group

Tvůrčí skupina Brož – Ptáček, Miloš Brož (vedoucí dramaturg tvůrčí skupiny), Jaromír Ptáček (vedoucí dramaturg tvůrčí skupiny)

Technical info

Duration typology

feature film

Duration in minutes

102 min

Original length in metres

2 892 meters

Distribution carrier

16mm, 35mm

Aspect ratio

1:1,37

Colour

black & white

Sound

sound

Sound system/format

mono

Versions

Czech

Dialogue languages

Czech, German

Subtitles languages

Czech

Opening/End credits languages

Czech

Awards

Vítěz

Event: Státní ceny za rok 1961

1962
Praha / Czechoslovakia
Marie Vášová

Vítěz

Festival: Mezinárodní setkání filmů pro mládež Cannes

1961
Cannes / France

Vítěz

Festival: 3. festival českých a slovenských filmů Ostrava

1961
Ostrava / Czechoslovakia
Jana Brejchová

Vítěz

Festival: 3. festival českých a slovenských filmů Ostrava

1961
Ostrava / Czechoslovakia

Vítěz

Festival: 3. festival českých a slovenských filmů Ostrava

1961
Ostrava / Czechoslovakia

Vítěz

Festival: 3. festival českých a slovenských filmů Ostrava

1961
Ostrava / Czechoslovakia
František Smolík

Vítěz

Festival: 11. filmový festival pracujících

1960
23 měst / Czechoslovakia

Vítěz

Festival: 13. mezinárodní filmový festival Locarno

1960
Locarno / Italy
Jana Brejchová

Vítěz

Event: Umělecká soutěž k 15. výročí zrodu lidově-demokratické Československé republiky

1960
Praha / Czechoslovakia

Vítěz

Festival: 13. mezinárodní filmový festival Locarno

1960
Locarno / Italy

Vítěz

Festival: 21. mezinárodní filmový festival Benátky

1960
Benátky / Italy
František Smolík