The Nun’s Night

ballad

Typology

feature

Czech title

Noc nevěsty

Runtime

89

Country

Czechoslovakia

Copyright

1967

Production year

1967

Premiere

15.12.1967

Language version

Czech

Director

Karel Kachyňa

Screenplay

Jan Procházka, Karel Kachyňa

Summary

Screenwriter Jan Procházka and director Karel Kachyňa made many excellent films in the 1960s, including Ať žije republika! (Long Live the Republic!, 1965), Kočár do Vídně (A Carriage Going to Vienna, 1966) and Ucho (The Ear, 1970). This severe balladic film, inspired by Procházka’s novella Svatá noc (Holy Night), takes place in the 1950s. It explores the clash of two equally fanatical beliefs, and two radically different life attitudes: a religious and a communist one. However, the authors clearly side with the protagonist, a young former nun, who returns to her home farm in Southern Moravia after her father’s suicide. “The Miss” decides to work the farm alone, with the help of the potty Ambrož, and accepts a job in the local farmer’s cooperative. Refusing to abandon her faith, she attends the midnight mass, inspiring the rest of the villagers. They perceive her as the symbol of former authority and worship her as the Holy Virgin. The fanatical protagonist, later accused of pride and blasphemy by the local priest, gains a mortal adversary in the embittered Picin, chief of the local cooperative, who decides to crush the “Christmas rebellion” with a gun in his hand... This evocative film, shot in black-and-white by cinematographer Josef Illík, amounts to a country ballad that presents the 1950s as an era in which the old order is dying but the new communist regime cannot fully replace it. The protagonists wallow in guilt and despair, unable to gain forgiveness because the traditional religious beliefs and ideals of humility, steeped in the cycles of nature and the changing seasons of husbandry, have disappeared. In one of her greatest dramatic roles, Jana Brejchová gives an amazing performance as the Miss, imbuing her heroine with deep spirituality and ordinary humanity. The part of the rationalist Picin was given to Mnislav Hofmann, who mainly worked for theatre and had mostly minor roles in film. As the local priest, Josef Kemr lends great moral authority to his character.

Synopsis

One day of autumn 1950, during the forced collectivization, the farmers lead their cattle into the common stables of the new cooperative. The cooperative's chairman, Picin, publicly calls out the farmers' names. Only one among the farmers - the rich farmer Konvalinka - opposes the imposed violence in a horrific way, shooting all his cattle and himself committing suicide. The village witnesses the return of Konvalinka's daughter, nicknamed Miss [Slečna], a former nun whose cloister was closed by the new regime. She is running the remaining property alone, only with the help of the village fool Ambrož. Besides that, Miss is also feeding the cooperative's pigs. The farm-labourer Ambrož becomes the target of disgusting jokes suggesting a sexual relationship with the strict young woman employer. Picin is well aware that the members of the cooperative steal grain and not all of them have handed over their guns. Before Christmas, Miss decides to revive the village tradition and goes to the banned midnight mass on sledge. Clad in a nun's habit, she arrives at the church and blesses the people. The religious excitement of the crowd of villagers makes the priest serve the ceremony. Picin's common-law wife Filipa dies, and while the undertaker and his wife prepare her for the grave, Picin sets off to the church with a loaded gun. The priest, in front of the gathered people, scolds the former nun for pride and the young woman runs away to the fields, where in the freeze out to death. Picin, desperate of Filipa's death and blinded by hatred, shoots dead one of the farmers in front of the church. Miss dies in the frost and the members of militia arrive to the village from town.

Film online

Cast

Jana Brejchová

jeptiška zvaná Slečna, rozená Konvalinková

Mnislav Hofmann

předseda Picin

Gustáv Valach

obecní blázen Ambrož

Josef Kemr

farář

Josef Elsner

rolník Jan Šabatka

Čestmír Řanda

rolník Alois Skovajs

Jaroslav Moučka

rolník Vitásek

Josef Větrovec

rolník Josef Bařina

Valerie Kaplanová

Filipa, Picinova družka

Libuše Havelková

rolnice Klára Jedličková

Karel Houska

kostelník Tapa

Adam Matejka

hrobník Gustav

Anna Kratochvílová

Anna, hrobníkova žena

Jaroslava Vysloužilová

Bařinova žena

Petr Svojtka

Karel, Skovajsův syn

Jiří Klem

učitel

Eva Foustková

stařena

Marie Mašková

stařena

Luisa Kollingerová

stařena

Josef Koza

milicionář

Antonín Novotný

milicionář

Ladislav Kazda

strážmistr VB

Lubomíra Willigová

Skovajsova žena

Jan Kraus

kluk Martin

Vladimír Očenášek

dítě

Simona Uhlířová

dítě

Eva Dyková

družička, Slečna jako dítě

Ladislav Gzela

vesničan

Pavel Handl

voják

Vl. Pokorný

výrostek

Jozef Sodoma

vesničan

Jindra Rathová

vesnická žena

Dubbing

Josef Abrhám

hlas Karla Skovajse

Crew and creators

Second Unit Director

Milada Mikešová

Assistant Director

Stanislava Hutková, Jaroslava Čapková

Based on

Jan Procházka (Svatá noc – novela)

Shooting Script

Karel Kachyňa

Camera Operator

Josef Pávek

Production Designer

Leoš Karen

Make-Up Artist

Stanislav Petřek

Film Editor

Miroslav Hájek

Sound Designer

Jiří Lenoch

Production Manager

Jaroslav Kučera

Unit Production Manager

Zdeňka Černá, Hubert Novotný

Unit Production Manager

Vít Pešina

Consultant

František Zábrodský

Cooperation

D. Fišerová, Leopold Zeman

Music

Music Composed by

Jan Novák (skladatel)

Music Performed by

FISYO

Music Conducted by

František Belfín (FISYO)

Songs

Nesem vám noviny

Writer of Lyrics

Tomáš Bečák (Nesem vám noviny)

Singer

sbor (Nesem vám noviny)

Production info

Original Title

Noc nevěsty

English Title

The Nun’s Night

Copyright

1967

Production Year

1967

Premiere

15.12.1967

Creative Group

Šmída – Fikar, Ladislav Fikar, Bohumil Šmída

Technical info

Format

35mm , Betacam, DVD

Versions

Czech

Awards

Vítěz

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

1968
Praha / Czechoslovakia
Jan Procházka

Vítěz

Event: 5. soutěž o hudební dílo vytvořené pro film v roce 1967

1968
Praha / Czechoslovakia
Jan Novák

Vítěz

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

1968
Praha / Czechoslovakia
Karel Kachyňa

Vítěz

Event: Cena Ústředního výboru Svazu československého spisovatelů za rok 1966

1967
Praha / Czechoslovakia
Jan Procházka

Vítěz

Festival: 28. mezinárodní filmový festival Benátky

1967
Benátky / Italy
Jan Procházka