Christmas with Elizabeth

narrative

Typology

feature

Lenght

long

Czech title

Vánoce s Alžbětou

Runtime

90 min

Country

Czechoslovakia

Copyright

1968

Production year

1968

Premiere

22.11.1968

Language version

Czech

Director

Karel Kachyňa

Summary

In 1968, director Karel Kachyňa and screenwriter Jan Procházka completed this low-key film built around a confrontation between two characters at odds in terms of generation, social status as well as personal traits. Ageing lorry driver Hubert Cmíral (Vlado Müller) is teamed up with a new driving mate, 21 year-old Alžběta (Pavla Kárníková). The flippant and ill-mannered girl has spent time in a correctional facility prompting conservative Hubert to attempt fatherly guidance and re-education. Rebellious Alžběta comes to understand that the man’s stern outside shell hides a kind, if traumatised soul. The incongruous pair of loners gradually find their way towards each other… The intimate psychological drama, shot by director of photography Josef Pávek in black and white, is an unjustly neglected work by Kachyňa. The film delivers a timeless message set firmly in the period of its making, thus providing a filmed testimony of the harsh realities of rural life in the 1960s.

Synopsis

Hubert Cmíral, an elderly lorry driver distributing food to village shops, is surprised to see the management of his enterprise appointing the very young Alžběta Tomajdesová to be his driver's mate. He soon finds out that she grew up in a children's home and also spent some time in a girls' reformatory. The lonesome conservative grumbler resents Alžběta's light-hearted approach both to life and her duties as well as how quickly she enters into relationships with men. Although Christmas is coming, the weather is warm and rainy. The two unlike people are finding way to each other only with difficulty. Hubert tries to bring the girl up but she resents his attempts scornfully. Over time, however, she finds out that her colleague has also had a complicated past, even spending some time in prison for inflicting grievous bodily harm upon his wife. One day, Alžběta and Hubert quarrel. The girl breaks the truck windscreen with a stone and runs away, facing prison for her absence from work, as she is on probation for "social parasitism." Hubert finds her in the reformatory where the girl has hid herself, and convinces her to return. They dance with each other at a village wedding to which both of them were invited, and Hubert gets drunk. The girl walks him home but is allowed to leave only upon making a promise to spend Christmas Eve with him. Eventually, Hubert eats the painstakingly prepared Christmas dinner alone. That very night, he is urgently called upon to help unload a railway wagon. On the way, he passes by a forest manger where he and Alžběta observed red-deer hinds some time ago, and by it, he sees a Christmas tree decorated with candles. The snow finally begins to fall.

Cast

Vlado Müller

řidič Hubert Cmíral

Pavla Kárníková

závoznice Alžběta Tomajdesová

Zdena Hadrbolcová

ředitelka nápravného ústavu Poštolková

Mnislav Hofmann

vrátný Franta

Svatopluk Skládal

dispečer Sádlo

Jan Kotva

skladník Dásnička

Rudolf Kutílek

hudebník

Kamil Olšovský

domovník

Václav Lochovský

penzista

František Fuka (2)

číšník Eda

Jiří Hasil

dílovedoucí Nikl

Magda Paveleková

prodavačka

Milan Holubář

hráč karet

Ladislav Fecko

muž na první štaci

Eliška Müllerová

venkovská žena

Eva Trunečková

prodavačka

Zuzana Opršalová

Bláža, chovanka nápravného ústavu

Crew and creators

Second Unit Director

Milada Mikešová

Assistant Director

Stanislava Hutková, Jaroslava Čapková

Screenstory

Jan Procházka

Shooting Script

Karel Kachyňa

Second Unit Photography

Karel Hejsek

Production Designer

Leoš Karen

Costume Designer

Jan Kropáček

Make-Up Artist

Stanislav Petřek

Film Editor

Miroslav Hájek

Sound Designer

Jiří Lenoch

Production Manager

Jaroslav Kučera

Unit Production Manager

Zdeňka Černá, Milada Krůtová

Cooperation

Leopold Zeman

Music

Songs

Ráno ťuká na můj práh, U panského dvora

Songwriter

lidová píseň (U panského dvora)

Writer of Lyrics

František Jaroslav Vacek-Kamenický (U panského dvora)

Singer

Marta Kubišová (Ráno ťuká na můj práh), Vlado Müller (U panského dvora), Pavla Kárníková (U panského dvora)

Production info

Original Title

Vánoce s Alžbětou

English Title

Christmas with Elizabeth

Category

film

Typology

feature

Genre

narrative

Origin country

Czechoslovakia

Copyright

1968

Production Year

1968

Premiere

22.11.1968

Creative Group

Švabík – Procházka, Jan Procházka, Erich Švabík

Technical info

Lenght

long

Runtime

90 min

Versions

Czech