The Thirteenth Chamber

narrative, psychological

Typology

feature

Lenght

long

Czech title

Třináctá komnata

Runtime

90 min

Country

Czechoslovakia

Copyright

1968

Production year

1968

Premiere

25.04.1969

Language version

Czech

Director

Otakar Vávra

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

Kosťa, Divišův syn

Krzysztof Chamiec

doktor Petr zvaný Černý Petr

Marie Brožová

teta Mína

Vlasta Jelínková

teta Týna

Blažena Vernerová

teta Karolína

Milan Zezula

sochař, Kalistův přítel

Dubbing

Miloš Willig

hlas doktora Petra

Oldřich Velen

hlas sochaře

Crew and creators

Second Unit Director

Jiří Růžička st.

Assistant Director

Zdenka Petřková

Based on

Vladimír Neff (Třináctá komnata – román)

Shooting Script

Otakar Vávra

Second Unit Photography

Rudolf Jokl

Camera Operator

Vlastimil Malaska

Production Designer

Karel Škvor

Set Designer

Jiří Čermák, Eva Slívová

Costume Designer

Naděžda Hanáková

Film Editor

Antonín Zelenka

Production Manager

Jaroslav Kučera

Unit Production Manager

Hubert Novotný, Zdeňka Černá

Unit Production Manager

Taťána Bargárová

Consultant

prof. MUDr. Zdeněk Kunc

Cooperation

Bohumila Velková, Eliška Švarcová, Jan Kňákal

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 (Pod starým mostem Karlovým)

Writer of Lyrics

Ester Krumbachová (Pod starým mostem Karlovým)

Singer

ženský sbor (Pod starým mostem Karlovým), skupina The Rebels (Pod starým mostem Karlovým)

Production info

Original Title

Třináctá komnata

English Title

The Thirteenth Chamber

Category

film

Typology

feature

Genre

narrative, psychological

Origin country

Czechoslovakia

Copyright

1968

Production Year

1968

Premiere

25.04.1969

Creative Group

Feix – Brož, Miloš Brož, Karel Feix

Technical info

Lenght

long

Runtime

90 min

Versions

Czech

Awards

Vítěz

Festival: 2. mezinárodní filmový festival Phnompenh

1969
Phnompenh / Cambodia