The Valley of the Bees





Production year



17 May 1968


96 min




drama, historical, tragedy


featuretheatrical distributionlong

Original title

Údolí včel

Czech title

Údolí včel

English title

The Valley of the Bees

Working title



The partnership between director František Vláčil and screenwriter Vladimír Körner yielded films including Adelheid (Adelheid, 1969), Pověst o stříbrné jedli (The Legend of the Silver Fir, 1973) and Stín kapradiny (The Shadow of a Ferns, 1984). But it is the historical drama Údolí včel (The Valley of the Bees, 1967) that is widely regarded as the pair’s greatest collaborative achievement. Released in cinemas shortly after Vláčil’s highly acclaimed Marketa Lazarová (Marketa Lazarová, 1967), The Valley of the Bees came about as a result of efforts to reuse the props and costumes from the director’s previous opus – hitherto the most expensive Czechoslovak film of all time. Körner’s compact concept is very different from the ambitious, expansive adaptation of author Vladislav Vančura’s historical novel Marketa Lazarová. While the former film told the story of Christianity’s battle with paganism, The Valley of the Bees is more of a timeless picture representing a battle between asceticism and freedom. Similarly to Ingmar Bergman’s The Seventh Seal (Sedmá pečeť, 1957), the film is highly philosophical; a non-romanticised view of the Middle Ages, which, instead of putting forward battle scenes, focuses on the internal conflicts of its characters. The protagonists of the story are two Teutonic Knights of the Cross, Armin von Heide and his Bohemian protégé Ondřej. The young aristocrat, whose father appointed him to the Order in childhood, escapes the castle where he grew up indoctrinated in asceticism and prayer. But the fanatical Armin keeps his companion under surveillance, following him to his hometown of Vlkov, and thwarting Ondřej’s attempts to lead a happy life with the lovely Lenora. The return of the desperate Ondřej to the Order as the only possible home that remains available to him was viewed by “normalisation” era censors as so controversial that for a 1977 TV version, they created a notably different “new” version with a truncated ending. This visually polished piece stars Petr Čepek as Ondřej, and Jan Kačer as Armin. Unlike Marketa Lazarová , the film did not find favour with critics and audiences. But the film has since been reappraised, and is today widely viewed as a Czechoslovak film classic.


It is the second half of the 13th century. The widowed master of a yeoman's stronghold, Vlkov, marries young Lenora. His twelve-year old son from his first marriage, Ondřej, gives his future "mother" a basket as a wedding gift with bats hidden among white flowers. The father, blinded by fury, flings the boy against a wall. Kneeling over the bleeding limp body, he then prays to the Virgin Mary, begging for the boy's recovery and promising he would give Ondřej to her service. The recovered boy is then taken to the North, to a castle, which is a site of a powerful crusader's order, its members eschewing women as well as all other profane temptations. Ondřej is befriended by Armin von Heide, an ascetic and fanatic who exaggerates the abstention almost masochistically. Years pass and Ondřej has become an adult. In the time of fasting, the order knight Rotgier escapes from the castle and Armin pursues him with the other men. Ondřej runs into the refugee by accident and their rushed talk ignites desire for freedom in him as well. Although Rotgier is caught and killed by a pack of hounds, Ondřej, too, decides to run away. He reaches as far as to Vlkov stronghold, where the widowed Lenora lives. The two people become close and decide to marry. Armin, following Ondřej close upon his heels, sneaks around the stronghold and enters it on the very wedding day. Lenora does not want to chase the unknown guest away and even kisses him in a friendly manner. In the evening, the fanatical man invades Lenora's bedroom and cuts her throat. Ondřej lets him be worried to death by dogs and he penitently returns to the site of the order.


Petr Čepek

řádový rytíř Ondřej z Vlkova

Jan Kačer

řádový rytíř Armin von Heide

Zdeněk Kryzánek

pán z Vlkova, Ondřejův otec

Věra Galatíková

Lenora, Ondřejova nevlastní matka

Miroslav Macháček

hnědý mnich

Josef Somr

řádový rytíř Rotgier

Václav Kotva


Josef Kotapiš

starší uhlíř

Petr Sedlák

Voice by Vlastimil Hašek
mladší uhlíř

Jana Hlaváčková

slepá dívka

Antonín Pražák

Voice by Vilém Besser
starší lovec

Ludvík Wolf

Voice by Pavel Landovský
mladší lovec

Ladislav Gzela

pacholek Jakub

Petr Štěpánek

pacholek Markvart

Michal Kožuch

Voice by Vítězslav Vejražka
vesnický kněz Blasius

Jana Hájková

Lenora, Ondřejova nevlastní matka jako dívka

Zdeněk Sedláček

řádový rytíř Ondřej z Vlkova jako dvanáctiletý

František Husák

šedý mnich

Jan Kratochvíl

Voice by Zdeněk Řehoř
řádový rytíř u Ondřejovy cely

Karel Engel

řádový rytíř

Zdeněk Chlum


Václav Mach


Crew and creators

Second Unit Director

Aleš Dospiva

Assistant Director

Jan Kratochvíl


Eva Kubesová

Director of Photography

František Uldrich

Second Unit Photography

Jiří Macák

Camera Operator

Petr Pešek

Production Designer

Jindřich Goetz

Set Designer

Jiří Cvrček, Ivan Ernyei, Oldřich Halaza

Costume Designer

Theodor Pištěk ml.

Film Editor

Miroslav Hájek

Assistant Film Editor

Vilemína Binterová

Sound Designer

František Fabián

Titles Designed by

Jan Bláha

Production Manager

Věra Kadlecová

Unit Production Manager

Miroslav Dousek, Václav Havlík

Unit Production Manager

Vladimír Tišer


Eva Janíková (klapka), Jan Kuděla (fotograf)


Music Composed by

Zdeněk Liška

Music Performed by

FISYO (Music Conducted by František Belfín), Kühnův smíšený sbor (Music Conducted by Pavel Kühn), Zdeněk Chlum, Jiří Stivín, Václav Mach, Vlasta Mlejnková /vokály/


Smiluj se nade mnou /Miserere mei Deus/

Singer Kühnův smíšený sbor

Christ ist erstanden

Singer Kühnův smíšený sbor

Domine deus meus

Singer Kühnův smíšený sbor

Náš král s králkou pěkně prosí

Singer dětský sbor

Production info

Original Title

Údolí včel

Czech Title

Údolí včel

English Title

The Valley of the Bees

Working Title





featuretheatrical distribution


drama, historical, tragedy

Origin country




Production Year


Production specifications

literary Screenplay approved 2 March 1967
technical Screenplay approved 1 June 1967
start of filming 30 June 1967
end of filming 31 October 1967
projection approval 20 December 1967


preview 25 April 1968 (kino Mír, Zábřeh na Moravě)
premiere 16 May 1968 /unsuitable for youths/ (kina 64 U Hradeb /1 týden/, Městská knihovna /½ týdne od 23. 5./ a Světozor /2 týdny od 20. 6./, Praha)
premiere 17 May 1968 /unsuitable for youths/ (celostátní)

Creative Group

Tvůrčí skupina Novotný – Kubala, Bedřich Kubala (vedoucí dramaturg tvůrčí skupiny), Ladislav Novotný (vedoucí výroby tvůrčí skupiny)

Technical info

Duration typology

feature film

Duration in minutes

96 min

Original length in metres

2 738 meters

Distribution carrier

16mm, 35mm

Aspect ratio

1:1,85, 1:2,35


black & white



Sound system/format




Dialogue languages


Subtitles languages

without subtitles

Opening/End credits languages




Event: Peněžitá odměna za film v rámci hodnocení produkce Filmového studia Barrandov v roce 1967

Praha / Czechoslovakia
František Vláčil


Event: Peněžitá odměna za film v rámci hodnocení produkce Filmového studia Barrandov v roce 1967

Praha / Czechoslovakia
Vladimír Körner


Event: Peněžitá odměna za film v rámci hodnocení produkce Filmového studia Barrandov v roce 1967

Praha / Czechoslovakia
František Uldrich