A Dull Afternoon

short-story

Typology

feature

Lenght

short

Czech title

Fádní odpoledne

Runtime

13 min

Country

Czechoslovakia

Copyright

1964

Production year

1964

Language version

Czech

Director

Ivan Passer

Summary

The prose of Bohumil Hrabal became a fascinating source of inspiration for directors of the Czechoslovak New Wave. In the film of short stories Perličky na dně (Pearls at the Bottom) from 1965, the future leading lights of the New Wave – Jiří Menzel, Jan Němec, Evald Schorm, Věra Chytilová, and Jaromil Jireš – gave a convincing demonstration of their abilities. Something similar was achieved by the half-hour Hrabal etude Sběrné surovosti (Cruelties of Life) by Juraj Herz, and the 14-minute story Fádní odpoledne (A Dull Afternoon) by the screenwriter and director Ivan Passer (1964), who was a close associate of Miloš Forman and who had a very successful feature debut in 1965 with Intimní osvětlení (Intimate Lighting). In his adaptation of the story of the same name from Hrabal’s collection of short stories Perlička na dně (Pearls of the Deep), he depicts the outwardly sleepy summer atmosphere of a suburban pub. The protagonists are individual guests who interact with each other – either consciously or because they find themselves together in the same time and space. An arrogant young man provoking the irritable innkeeper, a foursome of card players, an ex-footballer with a saucepan of sauerkraut, and an elegant woman walking the streets – these are all drawn into the action, which is given momentum by a game of football taking place nearby. The lost Sunday match, which passing fans enjoyed with a swagger, is an echo of collective futility: the wishes and desires of the individual characters are more like something from a summer dream looking toward the past than an impetus for action… In A Dull Afternoon, Ivan Passer proves himself to be a master of meaningless pauses and unspoken sentences that lay bare the existential timelessness of human existence with laconic kindness. The author of the original story and co-screenwriter Bohumil Hrabal appeared as one of the unnamed bar patrons in this film shot by the cinematographer Jaroslav Kučera.

Synopsis

An elderly man sits in a pub on a summer Sunday afternoon. At another table, four middle-aged ladies play cards and sing to themselves in a low voice. The publican is scandalized by a young man who keeps ordering one beer after another just by waving his hand, and chain-smokes without for a moment taking his eyes off a book entitled When Wolves Howl. A bunch of football fans comes to brace themselves with a drink and the elderly man refuse their offer to join them at the stadium because he fears for his weak heart. An ex-football player arrives with a casserole of pickled cabbage and starts to chat about long forgotten sport stars. The young man pays his bill and infuriates the publican by using a three-crown paper note - a refused tip - to light up his cigarette. The man with the cabbage is mesmerised by an elegantly dressed woman taking a walk on the street in front of the pub. The gloomy return of the football fans shows the results of the game. The elderly man want to take his medicine but his arm drops and his eyes remain staring out into nowhere. The elegant woman walks across the field, and the man with the cabbage follows her, like hypnotized.

Cast

Kamila Turková

Leopold Smolík

Miloš Končický

Josef Vaništa

Ota Hurych

Crew and creators

Director

Ivan Passer

Second Unit Director

Květa Ondráková

Assistant Director

Zdenka Karlovská, Zdenka Petřková

Based on

Bohumil Hrabal (Fádní odpoledne – povídka ze sbírky Perlička na dně)

Shooting Script

Ivan Passer

Second Unit Photography

Miroslav Ondříček

Production Designer

Oldřich Bosák

Film Editor

Miroslav Hájek

Sound Designer

Blažej Bernard

Assistant Sound Designer

Václav Kliegel

Production Manager

František Sandr

Unit Production Manager

Ludmila Tikovská, Věra Winkelhöferová

Music

Songs

Mě na světě nic netěší, Vyšel měsíček, vyšel u lesa

Singer

ženský sbor (Mě na světě nic netěší), ženský sbor (Vyšel měsíček, vyšel u lesa)

Production info

Original Title

Fádní odpoledne

English Title

A Dull Afternoon

Category

film

Typology

feature

Genre

short-story

Origin country

Czechoslovakia

Copyright

1964

Production Year

1964

Creative Group

Šmída – Fikar, Ladislav Fikar, Bohumil Šmída

Technical info

Lenght

short

Runtime

13 min

Versions

Czech

Awards

Vítěz

Festival: 19. mezinárodní filmový festival Locarno

1966
Locarno / Switzerland

Vítěz

Festival: 14. mezinárodní filmový týden Mannheim

1965
Mannheim / Federal Republic of Germany

Vítěz

Festival: 14. mezinárodní filmový týden Mannheim

1965
Mannheim / Federal Republic of Germany

Vítěz

Festival: 14. mezinárodní filmový týden Mannheim

1965
Mannheim / Federal Republic of Germany