Bag of Fleas

narrative

Typology

feature

Czech title

Pytel blech

Runtime

45

Country

Czechoslovakia

Copyright

1962

Production year

1962

Premiere

15.03.1963

Language version

Czech

Director

Věra Chytilová

Screenplay

Věra Chytilová

Screenstory

Věra Chytilová

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 The quiet and withdrawn girl gradually meets other girls whom she is sharing the room with.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.

Dubbing

Helga Čočková

hlas učnice Evy Gálové

Crew and creators

Screenstory

Věra Chytilová

Commentary by

Věra Chytilová

Script Editor

Václav Borovička

Production Manager

Stanislav Koláček

Music

Music Composed by

archivní

Songs

Na naší zahrádce rozkvetly růže, Za rok se vrátím, Louky lesy probudíme naší malou písničkou, Ramona

Songwriter

Eduardo di Capua (Za rok se vrátím)

Writer of Lyrics

Jiřina Fikejzová (Za rok se vrátím)

Singer

ženský hlas (Na naší zahrádce rozkvetly růže), dívčí sbor (Za rok se vrátím), mužský hlas (Za rok se vrátím), ženský hlas (Za rok se vrátím), ženský sbor (Louky lesy probudíme naší malou písničkou), mužský sbor (Ramona)

Production info

Original Title

Pytel blech

English Title

Bag of Fleas

Working Title

Dívčí román

Copyright

1962

Production Year

1962

Premiere

15.03.1963

Copyright Holders

Národní filmový archiv

Distribution

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

Technical info

Versions

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