The Return of the Prodigal Son

drama, psychological

Typology

feature

Czech title

Návrat ztraceného syna

Runtime

99

Country

Czechoslovakia

Copyright

1966

Production year

1966

Premiere

10.03.1967

Language version

Czech

Director

Evald Schorm

Screenplay

Evald Schorm, Sergej Machonin

Screenstory

Evald Schorm

Summary

This 1966 psychological drama affirmed director Evald Schorm’s position as one of the most individual filmmakers of the Czechoslovak New Wave. Jan Kačer gives a brilliant performance as the film’s tragic protagonist. Architect Jan Šebek seems to have everything yet he’s still tormented by existential dilemmas that drive him to a suicide attempt. Unfortunately, a subsequent sojourn in a mental hospital does not help Jan deal with his feelings of alienation and insecurity, or his inability to communicate… Unlike other stories about alienated intellectuals, made around the same time by such filmmakers as Michelangelo Antonioni and Ingmar Bergman, Návrat ztraceného syna (The Return of the Prodigal Son) depicts a “morally diseased man”, whose story reflects Schorm’s own scepticism towards the hopeful mood in society, culminating in the period of liberalisation known as the Prague Spring.

Synopsis

Engineer Jan Šebek is undergoing treatment in a mental home after his unsuccessful attempt to commit suicide. His therapist, via discussions both with the patient and with people who know him, tries to find out what made the young and seemingly satisfied man decide to end his own life. Jan's pretty wife Jana claims not to know about anything but she is conducting an affair with a family friend, Jiří, almost publicly and with the blessing of her parents. At work, Jan is considered to be a bit weird but a nice person. The Šebeks live with Jana's parents and Jan cannot stand his affected and hypocritical mother-in-law and her fake kindness. In the hospital, he makes friends with fellow patient Zdeněk and successfully resists the wooing of the doctor's wife. He even tries to run away and after some time, when the doctors fail to find the cause of his depression, is released on probation. The relationship with Jana seems to be just fine. But despite that, the behaviour of Jana's parents and some colleagues at work irritates the mentally unstable Jan to such an extent that he breaks down again and returns to the asylum. The tragic death of Zdeněk, who could not bear the pestering of another patient, forces Jan to attempt another unsuccessful escape - but the doctor still lets him go home with his wife upon obligation. On the way home, the couple drops by in a village. A village woman mistakenly confuses Jan for a wanted murderer and the fanatic crowd pursuing him makes the man break down completely.

Film online

Cast

Jan Kačer

inženýr Jan Šebek

Jana Brejchová

Jana, Šebkova manželka

Jiří Menzel

Jiří, přítel Šebkových

Milan Morávek

lékař

Dana Medřická

Olga, manželka lékaře

Anna Lebedová

Skaličková, Janina matka

Antonín Lebeda

Skalička, Janin otec

Jiřina Třebická

zdravotní sestra

Jiří Kylián

tanečník Zdeněk, pacient psychiatrické léčebny

Nina Divíšková

mladá pacientka

Klára Kačerová

dcerka Šebkových

Hana Kreihanslová

uklízečka

Bohumil Koška

ošetřovatel

Leoš Suchařípa

ředitel projektového ústavu

Josef Šulc

náměstek

Vlastimil Brodský

cizí muž

Josef Janeček

artista s maringotkou

Olympie Janečková

artistova žena

Karel Hovorka

cirkusák

Josef Krameš

polykač ohně

Arnošt Bělohlávek

starší muž

Jiří Hartman

malíř

Milan Maryška

tančící mladík

Rudolf Tichý

akrobat na kole

Václav Čekal

artista-klaun

O. Plichta

artista s velbloudem

M. Říhová

artistka s medvědem

F. Sibera

žonglér

C. a L. Mukenšnáblovi

parterní akrobaté

E. Zemanová

artistka-kaučuk

J. a K. Nouzovi

artisté s poníky

A. Olexa

artista s hadem

Dubbing

Josef Abrhám

hlas pacienta Zdeňka

Crew and creators

Director

Evald Schorm

Second Unit Director

Josef Krameš

Screenstory

Evald Schorm

Shooting Script

Evald Schorm

Script Editor

Alexandr Kliment

Camera Operator

Petr Pešek

Production Designer

Bohumil Pokorný

Costume Designer

Svatava Sophová

Make-Up Artist

Vladimír Černý

Production Manager

Václav Rouha

Unit Production Manager

Zdeňka Černá, Ladislav Dražan

Music

Music Composed by

Jan Klusák

Music Performed by

FISYO

Music Conducted by

František Belfín (FISYO)

Songs

Na tom pražském mostě, Do lesíčka na čekanou

Songwriter

lidová píseň (Na tom pražském mostě), lidová píseň (Do lesíčka na čekanou), Miloš Vacek (Do lesíčka na čekanou) (úprava)

Production info

Original Title

Návrat ztraceného syna

English Title

The Return of the Prodigal Son

Copyright

1966

Production Year

1966

Premiere

10.03.1967

Creative Group

Novotný – Kubala, Bedřich Kubala, Ladislav Novotný

Technical info

Format

Betacam, DVD

Versions

Czech

Awards

Vítěz

Festival: 5. filmový festival mladých Trutnov

1967
Trutnov / Czechoslovakia
Jan Kačer

Vítěz

Festival: 5. filmový festival mladých Trutnov

1967
Trutnov / Czechoslovakia

Vítěz

Festival: 20. mezinárodní filmový festival Locarno

1967
Locarno / Switzerland