A Bag of Fleas

Country

Czechoslovakia

Copyright

1962

Production year

1962

Premiere

15 March 1963

Runtime

45 min

Category

film

Genre

experimental, reportage

Typology

featuretheatrical distributionmedium

Original title

Pytel blech

Czech title

Pytel blech

English title

A Bag of Fleas

Working title

Dívčí román

Summary

Věra Chytilová made her professional film debut with this 1962 fictional documentary set in the women’s boarding house of a textile factory, and told through the eyes of new apprentice Eva Gálová. The soft-spoken Moravian gradually gets to know her flatmates. She forms the closest relationship with Jana, who has discipline problems, and eventually receives a one-month ultimatum from the works council to improve her conduct. As part of the film’s experimental narrative structure, Eva remains invisible to the viewer – she does not step before the camera, and does not communicate with the protagonists of the story; but she does comment on events via internal monologues (this “invisible” figure was dubbed by Helga Čočková). The original, socially relevant story utilises a subjective cinéma vérité style courtesy of lighting cameraman Jaromír Šofra, coupled with an edgy, unsentimental, modernist script from writer-director Chytilová. The film won the main prize at the 4th Days of Short Films festival at Karlovy Vary. It was shown in cinemas along with Strop (The Ceiling, 1962), Chytilová's Prague FAMU film academy graduation film; the films went under the joint title of U stropu je pytel blech (There’s a Bag of Fleas by the Ceiling).

Synopsis

A new trainee Eva joins the women's hostel at a textile factory. The quiet and withdrawn girl gradually meets other girls whom she is sharing the room with. Marie is the soul of the singing circle and often gets time off as a reward for her singing. The thoughtful Jana ponders over whether God exists or not. Líza wants to become a parachutist, Květa collects photographs of film actors, and Helena does nothing but stand and look at herself in the mirror. Eva grows closest to independent Jana. Jana organizes an expedition to pick up a parcel sent to Marie full of delicacies from her home, and she is punished by being denied time off. She is the most skilled of the girls and instructs Eva. After some time, she admits that she has a boyfriend. This explains her fits of anger and conflicts with the tutors. One time the girl is caught smoking a cigarette in her room and the workshop board debate her case. They give Jana a month to improve. Nobody expects her to really make any progress. Only their experienced master has faith in her; he is the only one in whom Jana confides her worries. Her boyfriend is going to military service in a week and she fears she may never see him again.

Film online

Dubbing

Helga Čočková

hlas učnice Evy Gálové

Crew and creators

Commentary by

Věra Chytilová

Script Editor

Václav Borovička

Director of Photography

Jaromír Šofr

Production Manager

Stanislav Koláček

Music

Music Composed by

archivní

Songs

Na naší zahrádce rozkvetly růže

Singer ženský hlas

Za rok se vrátím

Songwriter Eduardo di Capua
Writer of Lyrics Jiřina Fikejzová
Singer dívčí sbormužský hlasženský hlas

Louky lesy probudíme naší malou písničkou

Singer ženský sbor

Ramona

Singer mužský sbor

Production info

Original Title

Pytel blech

Czech Title

Pytel blech

English Title

A Bag of Fleas

Working Title

Dívčí román

Category

film

Typology

featuretheatrical distribution

Genre

experimental, reportage

Origin country

Czechoslovakia

Copyright

1962

Production Year

1962

Production specifications

projection approval 30 August 1962

Premiere

premiere 15 March 1963 /suitable for youths/ (kino Praha /6 týdnů/, Praha)
renewed premiere 3 September 2012 /suitable for youths/

Distribution slogan

Two stories about the young people of our day. (1963) / no caption (2012)

Copyright Holders

Národní filmový archiv

Distribution

Ústřední půjčovna filmů (původní 1963), Národní filmový archiv (obnovená 2012)

Technical info

Duration typology

medium length film

Duration in minutes

45 min

Original length in metres

1 215 meters

Distribution carrier

16mm, 35mm, DCP 2-D, BRD

Aspect ratio

1:1,37

Colour

black & white

Sound

sound

Sound system/format

mono

Versions

Czech

Dialogue languages

Czech

Subtitles languages

without subtitles

Opening/End credits languages

Czech

Awards

Vítěz

Event: Umělecká soutěž k 20. výročí osvobození Československa

1965
Praha / Czechoslovakia
Věra Chytilová

Vítěz

Exhibition: 4. dny krátkého filmu Karlovy Vary

1963
Karlovy Vary / Czechoslovakia

Vítěz

Festival: 14. mezinárodní festival dokumentárních filmů Benátky

1963
Benátky / Italy