Case for the New Hangman

absurd, allegory

Typology

feature

Czech title

Případ pro začínajícího kata

Runtime

103

Country

Czechoslovakia

Copyright

1969

Production year

1969

Premiere

03.07.1970

Language version

Czech

Director

Pavel Juráček

Screenplay

Pavel Juráček

Summary

Both through his screenwriting and directing, Pavel Juráček made an indelible contribution to the New Wave of Czechoslovak cinema. Films directed by others according to his screenplays formed the mainstay of this singular author’s legacy, who, as it happens, himself directed only this one full-length feature film. The revolutionary and absurd drama Postava k podpírání (A Character in Need of Support, 1963) is after all a short film and Každý mladý muž (Every Young Man, 1965) consists of two unconnected short stories. As a screenwriter, Juráčka boasted a very particular personality. He was capable of equipping a fantasy genre story with all the features required for a spectacle that would appeal to the viewer, yet he would also give it a palpable metaphoric dimension: this was demonstrated by sci-fi picture Ikarie XB 1 (Icarus XB 1, 1963), post-apocalyptic drama Konec srpna v hotelu Ozon (The End of August at the Ozone Hotel, 1966) and the acerbic historical romance Bláznova kronika (A Jester’s Tale, 1964). Případ pro začínajícího kata (Case for the New Hangman, 1970) is a free adaptation of Jonathan Swift’s satire Gulliver’s Travels (first published in 1726). It is Juráček’s first and only full-length masterpiece as a director. The main character Lemuel Gulliver (Lubomír Kostelka) finds himself in the strange country of Balninarbi, where he constantly offends local customs and regulations. When interrogated, he is, moreover, incapable of providing a satisfactory explanation as to why he is not Oskar the hare, despite being in possession of the hare’s watch (which he found in the waistcoat pocket of the run-over animal). He’s condemned to death, but an invitation to the stranger from Laputa – the flying capital that is the home of the kingdom’s rulers – grants him a reprieve. Lemuel’s subsequent discovery that Balnibardi has not had a government for a very long time does not, however, improve his position vis-à-vis the local inhabitants, who derive self-assurance from their perceived existence of those “above”. Balnibardi, which constitutes an absurd mirror of the everyday communist reality experienced by Juráček, is not interested in the truth. To admit to having lived a life of self-deception and lies is plainly unpalatable for the locals… The sarcastic, surrealist playfulness and darkly amusing humour make Juráček’s feature film stand out from among a host of coded, symbolic cinematic works that accompanied the end of the 1960s (such as Evald Schorm’s Den sedmý, osmá noc [The Seventh Day, the Eighth Night, 1969] and Věra Chytilová’s Ovoce stromů rajských jíme [We Eat the Fruit of the Trees of Paradise, 1969]). It was all the more reason why Případ pro začínajícího kata could not find favour with the censors. The “normalisation” period of Czechoslovakia was under way and the film ended up in the “vault”, barred from distribution.

Synopsis

Lemuel Gulliver has had a car accident and continues his journey across the unknown countryside on foot. On the road he finds a dead rabbit dressed like a man and takes a watch from its waistcoat breast pocket. The half-ruined house that he enters reminds Lemuel of his childhood and brings up a painful memory of a dearly loved girl Markéta who was drowned years ago. Gulliver finds himself in Balnibarbi, a country where he doesn't understand the laws and habits and so continually offends against public decency. It is a day when people are ordered to keep their mouths shut and they force their visitor to follow suit. He faces harsh interrogation and finds it difficult to explain that he is not the rabbit Oscar whose watch has been found in his possession. He repeatedly sees Markéta's image in the various girls he encounters. He learns about the metropolis Laputa that floats high up in the air and occasionally causes eclipse of the Sun. Day and night, the people of Balnibarbi send provisions to their city via a rope. Gulliver is sentenced to death but then an invitation to Laputa saves him. Once there, he realizes that the government has long abandoned the city, like their beloved king who has been working as a porter in a Monte Carlo hotel for years. When Gulliver returns and imparts what he has found out to the Balnibarbians, the infuriated crowd almost lynches him. Luckily, he escapes and the fool Vyskoč takes him through a tunnel away from the strange country.

Note

The titles of the individual chapters: I. Journey There, II. The Balnibarbi Trap, III. The Academy of Inventors, IV. The Hand-Operated Machine, V. The Great Lord, VI. The Guardians of the Wells, VII. The Munodi Circus, VIII. The Balnibarbi Darkness, IX. The Ceremonial Execution, X. Island in the Air, XI. The Balnibarbi Silence, XII. Journey Elsewhere. The screenplay included more chapters and some of the mentioned chapters also had different titles.

Cast

Lubomír Kostelka

Lemuel Gulliver

Klára Jerneková

Markéta / Gabriela / plačící dívka / dcera Munodiových / princezna Niké

Milena Zahrynowská

Dominika / jiná dívka

Luděk Kopřiva

Vilém Seid

Slávka Budínová

Vilma, Seidova žena

Pavel Bošek

docent Baux

František Holar

vedoucí dobrovolník

Miroslav Macháček

cirkusák Munodi / kníže Munodi, cirkusákův syn

Věra Ferbasová

Munodiová

Jiřina Jirásková

Tadeášová

Jiří Hálek

guvernér

Jiří Janda

Patrik Beiel

Radovan Lukavský

profesor Beiel, Patrikův strýc

Nataša Gollová

referentka

Jiří Hrzán

obecní blázen Vyskoč

Zdeněk Kryzánek

ministr orby

Miroslav Hotový

regent Jeroným z Hory

Nina Bártů

královská kojná

Miroslav Homola

pravnuk trubače Melichara

Josef Kořán

dokazovatel

Miloš Hlaváč

usvědčovatel

Vladimír Hrabánek

vandrák v autobuse

Jan Bonaventura

komorník

Martin Kostelka

předseda soudu

Karel Vašíček

muž s kočkou

Jindřiška Gabriela Preissová

manželka ministra železnic

Dagmar Rosíková

krotitelka

Milena Šebestová

studentka

Karel Mareš

asistent Reum

Bohuslav Kupšovský

správce pečeti

Petr Hapka

klavírista

Vratislav Blažek

muž s rozsudkem

René Gabzdyl

povaleč, přítel Dominiky

Alois Čuřík

muž s hrnečkem

Ladislav Jakim

student Kryštof

Karel Engel

dobrovolník

Libor Fára

dobrovolník

Karel Bodnár

tanečník

Marie Grófová

tanečnice

Antonín Klepáč

tanečník

Emil Iserle

penzista

Miloslav Horáček

tanečník

Antonín Klimeš

komorník

Miroslav Laňka

přísedící

Jan Maška

podúředník

Viktor Očásek

starý učenec

Eduard Pavlíček

ministr války

Karel Svoboda

administrátor

Marie Štrampachová

žena v kroji, druhá přísedící

Alois Vachek

ministr železnic

Blažena Vernerová

dáma v černém

Václav Volk

dobrovolník

Milan Udržal

zřízenec

J. Šubrt

ochránce studánky

Helena Živná

tanečnice

J. Hladký

tanečník

E. Poláchová

tanečnice

Žofie Futerová

tanečnice

Z. Petrů

řidič

J. Holovská

děvka v autobusu

J. Kubečka

Dubbing

Regina Rázlová

hlas Dominiky

Miroslav Homola

hlas penzisty

Nataša Gollová

hlas ženy v kroji, druhé přísedící

Hana Talpová

hlas děvky v autobusu

Jindřich Narenta

hlas z filmového týdeníku

Jan Přeučil

hlas řečníka / hlas krále Matouše Velikého

Nina Divíšková

hlas zapisovatelky

Crew and creators

Second Unit Director

Boris Adamec, Tomáš Svoboda

Assistant Director

Jolana Bajtková, Jitka Faktorová (2)

Script Supervisor

Irena Klausová

Based on

Jonathan Swift (Gulliverovy cesty /Gulliver's Travels/ – román)

Screenplay

Pavel Juráček

Shooting Script

Pavel Juráček

Script Editor

Václav Nývlt

Second Unit Photography

Rudolf Holan

Camera Operator

Viktor Růžička

Production Designer

Milan Nejedlý

Assistent Production Designer

Jan Sedláček (2)

Art Director

J. I. Grandville, Hugo Demartini, Vladimír Dvořák

Set Designer

Zdeněk Jeřábek, Rudolf Kinský, Miloš Sršeň, I. Houser

Costume Designer

Theodor Pištěk ml.

Film Editor

Miroslav Hájek

Assistant Film Editor

Jitka Šulcová

Sound Designer

František Fabián, Bohumír Brunclík (zvukové efekty), Antonín Jedlička (hlasové efekty), Sbor Antonína Jedličky (hlasové efekty)

Titles Designed by

J. I. Grandville

Production Manager

Jan Balzer

Unit Production Manager

Jan Šuster, Jan Vild

Unit Production Manager

Oldřich Mach (výroba), B. Brýdlová

Cooperation

Blanka Rýdlová (klapka), Antonín Heřman (vrchní osvětlovač), Filmové laboratoře Barrandov

Music

Music Composed by

Luboš Fišer

Music Performed by

FISYO

Music Conducted by

František Belfín (FISYO)

Songs

Gloria Aleluja

Production info

Original Title

Případ pro začínajícího kata

English Title

Case for the New Hangman

Working Title

Krajina vlídných bludiček

Copyright

1969

Production Year

1969

Premiere

03.07.1970

Distribution

Ústřední půjčovna filmů (původní 1970 a obnovená 1990), Národní filmový archiv (obnovená 2016)

Creative Group

Juráček – Kučera, Pavel Juráček, Jaroslav Kučera

Technical info

Format

Betacam, DVD

Versions

Czech

Awards

Vítěz

Festival: 4. festival českých a slovenských filmů FINÁLE Plzeň

1990
Plzeň / Czechoslovakia