The Thirteenth Chamber

Country

Czechoslovakia

Copyright

1968

Production year

1968

Premiere

25 April 1969

Runtime

90 min

Category

film

Genre

drama, psychological

Typology

featuretheatrical distributionlong

Original title

Třináctá komnata

Czech title

Třináctá komnata

English title

The Thirteenth Chamber

Summary

A largely, and unfairly, forgotten film from director Otakar Vávra. Adapted from a 1944 novel by author Vladimír Neff, Třináctá komnata (The Thirteenth Chamber, 1968) falls between Vávra’s lyrical Romance pro křídlovku (Romance for the Bugle, 1966) and the raw political parable Kladivo na čarodějnice (The Witch Hunt, 1969). This poetic film tells the story of two children who decide to find out what lies beyond the walls of a mysterious villa concealed in a garden in Prague’s Malá Strana. Vávra and Neff collaborated on shifting the setting of the novel to the modern day. However, other than this change, the film retains the mysterious atmosphere of the novel, in which naive childlike fantasies blend with the real marriage problems encountered by a couple. Vávra and cinematographer Juraj Šajmovič experiment with alternating colour and black and white in the film. In their debut roles, Marcela Jelínková and Jan Buršík play the two children. Martin Růžek and Květa Fialová play the troubled couple.

Synopsis

Twelve-year old Kosťa, a little boy of an overactive imagination, makes friends with equally sensitive eleven-year old Blanka Kalistová. Fantasy leads the two children to the forgotten attic in the house of Blanka's parents. For them, this is the forbidden "thirteenth chamber," and to Kosťa, an old glass vase becomes a magic ball with the help of which he can play his favourite play "on fate". The children observe the adults and unconsciously sense that something has gone wrong in Blanka's family. Her dad is a physician and her mother is not happy with him, still recollecting her former wooer Petr who left for India upon his graduation. One day, Petr stops by. He begins boasting of his successes but eventually admits that nothing of it is true. He moreover suffers from severe epilepsy. Reading tiny strips of paper drawn out from the "ball", Kosťa foresees misfortune. Blanka gets scared and asks her father not to leave for a congress in London. She even makes up that she saw Petr kissing her mother in their garden. Father calms the daughter down and leaves. However, as the girl wakes up from her nightmare, she finds out that her father is dead - the plane he boarded had a motor failure and would not take off. Father thus returned home and was shot dead by the insane Petr. Both the children blame themselves for Kalista's death - Blanka, because she did not tell the father the truth about the mother, and Kosťa, because he did not keep his promise and did not destroy the magic ball.

Cast

Martin Růžek

profesor MUDr. Kalista

Květa Fialová

Kateřina, Kalistova žena

Marcela Jelínková

Blanka, dcera Kalistových

Vlastimil Brodský

advokát Diviš

Jan Buršík

Dubbing Jan Kraus
Kosťa, Divišův syn

Krzysztof Chamiec

Dubbing Miloš Willig
doktor Petr zvaný Černý Petr

Marie Brožová

teta Mína

Blažena Vernerová

teta Karolína

Milan Zezula

Dubbing Oldřich Velen
sochař, Kalistův přítel

Commentary

Crew and creators

Second Unit Director

Jiří Růžička st.

Assistant Director

Zdenka Petřková

Based on

Vladimír Neff (Třináctá komnata – román)

Shooting Script

Otakar Vávra

Director of Photography

Juraj Šajmovič

Second Unit Photography

Rudolf Jokl

Camera Operator

Vlastimil Malaska

Production Designer

Karel Škvor

Assistent Production Designer

Jan Kňákal

Set Designer

Jiří Čermák, Eva Slívová

Costume Designer

Naděžda Hanáková

Film Editor

Antonín Zelenka

Assistant Film Editor

Eliška Švarcová

Production Manager

Jaroslav Kučera

Unit Production Manager

Hubert Novotný, Zdeňka Černá

Unit Production Manager

Taťána Bargárová

Consultant

prof. MUDr. Zdeněk Kunc

Cooperation

Bohumila Velková (klapka), Josef Vítek (fotograf)

Music

Music Composed by

Jiří Srnka

Selected Music

Fryderyk Chopin (Valčík cis moll)

Music Performed by

FISYO, skupina The Rebels

Songs

Pod starým mostem Karlovým

Songwriter Jiří Srnka
Writer of Lyrics Ester Krumbachová
Singer ženský sborskupina The Rebels

Production info

Original Title

Třináctá komnata

Czech Title

Třináctá komnata

English Title

The Thirteenth Chamber

Category

film

Typology

featuretheatrical distribution

Genre

drama, psychological

Origin country

Czechoslovakia

Copyright

1968

Production Year

1968

Production specifications

literary Screenplay approved 22 November 1967
technical Screenplay approved 26 January 1968
start of filming 1 July 1968
end of filming 8 October 1968
projection approval 27 December 1968

Premiere

premiere 25 April 1969 /unsuitable for youths/ (celostátní)
premiere 5 June 1969 /unsuitable for youths/ (kino Paříž /3 týdny/, Praha)

Studio

Barrandov

Creative Group

Tvůrčí skupina Feix – Brož, Miloš Brož (vedoucí dramaturg tvůrčí skupiny), Karel Feix (vedoucí výroby tvůrčí skupiny)

Technical info

Duration typology

feature film

Duration in minutes

90 min

Original length in metres

2 551 meters

Distribution carrier

16mm, 35mm

Aspect ratio

1:1,37

Colour

colour

Sound

sound

Sound system/format

mono

Versions

Czech

Dialogue languages

Czech

Subtitles languages

without subtitles

Opening/End credits languages

Czech

Awards

Vítěz

Festival: 2. mezinárodní filmový festival Phnompenh

1969
Phnompenh / Cambodia