The Witch Hunt

historical, thriller

Typology

feature

Czech title

Kladivo na čarodějnice

Runtime

103

Country

Czechoslovakia

Copyright

1969

Production year

1969

Premiere

23.01.1970

Language version

Czech

Director

Otakar Vávra

Screenplay

Otakar Vávra, Ester Krumbachová

Summary

Medieval witch trials provided the story for a 1963 book by Václav Kaplický that Otakar Vávra and Ester Krumbachová used as the basis for the screenplay of the outstanding historical drama Kladivo na čarodějnice (The Witch Hunt) (1969). The renowned director and multi-talented costume designer also took inspiration from the court records of witch trials held between 1678 and 1695. Both book and film borrowed the title from Malleus maleficium (1486), a medieval manual for fighting witchcraft. While the plot centres on the fate of actual people convicted in witch trials it also consciously reflects the 1950s show trials of Milada Horáková and Rudolf Slánský, details of which started to emerge in the 1960s. The narrative’s dark protagonist is Jindřich František Boblig of Edelstadt (1612–1698), an imperial lay inquisitor who helmed witch trials in Šumperk and was responsible for the burning to death of over 100 people, including the Šumperk dean Kryštof Lautner and the young servant Zuzana (Soňa Valentová). The inquisitor was not inspired by religion: he divvied up most of the property of his victims with the local nobility… Vávra’s Boblig, played by Vladimír Šmeral, is a sadistic fanatic who used torture and intimidation to force confessions out of dozens of innocent people. The inquisitor’s antithesis is the humanist Launter (Elo Romančík), a prototype of the modern intellectual who despite his moral convictions inevitably falls victim to absurd violence and hatred… In reaction to the political liberalisation of the period, Vávra, who was 58, created an enduring, expressive picture that ranks among his best. The Witch Hunt, which naturally was none too popular with normalisation period censors, brought an end to the interesting, unrestrained 1960s period in the director’s filmography.

Synopsis

The time is the seventeenth century. The beggar Maryna Schuchová hides the Host in her scarf at the Communion. She admits to the parish priest Schmidt that she intended to give it to the midwife Groerová to heal her ailing cow. The young priest declares her a witch and convinces the Šumperk countess de Galle to summon the inquisitor Boblig from Edelstadt. This failed student of law sees the offer as a great opportunity. He uses torture and threats to force the women from the to testify to their meetings with the devil and learn by heart the lies he has made up for the inquisition tribunal. Boblig accuses the wealthy burghers of witchcraft as well, and so wants to seize their possessions. Dean Lautner, who has stood in the way of Boblig's misdoings, is also accused as the devil's partner. Lautner requests the help of the bishop of Olomouc and other members of the clergy, to no avail. Terror spreads throughout the region, and even the countess fears Boblig. Horrified, Schmidt witnesses the consequences of his religious zeal. Lautner and many others are imprisoned and tortured. At first, Lautner is convinced that truth will prevail, but he remains entirely alone. Other burghers are broken and in a delirium-like state keep repeating the parts they learnt by rote. The stakes are burning in the Šumperk region, and the dean himself is finally burnt at one of them. Fear gives Boblig power over everyone. The inquisitor continues to enjoy a peaceful and opulent life to the ripe old age, and even marries late in life.

Cast

Elo Romančík

děkan Kryštof Alois Lautner

Vladimír Šmeral

inkvizitor Jindřich František Boblig z Edelstadtu

Soňa Valentová

kuchařka Zuzana Voglicková

Josef Kemr

písař Ignác

Lola Skrbková

žebračka Maryna Schuchová

Jiřina Štěpničková

porodní bába Dorota Groerová

Marie Nademlejnská

kořenářka Davidka

Miriam Kantorková

lazebnice Dorota Tobiášová

Lubor Tokoš

barvíř Kašpar Sattler

Blažena Holišová

Marie, Sattlerova žena

Jaroslava Obermaierová

Alžběta zvaná Lízl, dcera Sattlerových

Jiří Holý

farář König

Rudolf Krátký

bývalý soudce Kašpar Hutter

Čestmír Řanda

děkan Vojtěch Winkler

Blanka Waleská

hraběnka de Galle

Josef Bláha

hrabě Šternberk, státní sekretář

Eduard Cupák

farář Schmidt

Ilja Prachař

rychtář Gaup, přísedící

Gustav Opočenský

sekretář Schmidt, farářův bratr

Štěpán Zemánek

hejtman Vinarský, přísedící

František Holar

kat Jakub Hay zvaný Jokl

Zdeněk Kryzánek

lesmistr Zeidler, přísedící

Miloš Willig

JUDr. Mayer

Josef Mixa

sluha Florian

Josef Elsner

hejtman

Karel Čížek

biřic

Jan Pohan

biřic

Marie Cingrošová

matka s dítětem

Ladislav Gzela

žebrák

Miloš Hájek

mydlář Jan Přerovský

Zdeněk Hodr

důchodní Vraný, přísedící

Zbyněk Jirmář

Grescenius

Jiří Lír

sekretář apelačního soudu

Jan Prokeš

dozorce Umlauf

Boleslava Svobodová

lazebnice

Alois Vachek

kostelník Bittner

Zbyněk Bruthans

mnich Carolus

Martin Kapoun

ministrant

Ivana Horká

cechmistrová

E. Lázničková

cechmistrová

Yvona Odehnalová

cechmistrová

M. Svoboda

starý dozorce

J. Umlauf

mrzák

I. Bobková

tanečnice

Zdeněk Derka

tanečník

J. Janovcová

tanečnice

Oldřich Mazůrek

tanečník

Vladislav Šebesta

tanečník

M. Ždánská

tanečnice

Otakar Rademacher

pomocník kata

J. Bartoš

pomocník kata

L. Kot

pomocník kata

Zuzana Rumlová

nahá žena

Yvonne Kodoňová

nahá žena

L. Divišová

nahá žena

E. Maragnová

nahá žena

S. Procházková

nahá žena

R. Propperová

nahá žena

L. Šindlerová

nahá žena

Crew and creators

Second Unit Director

Milan Jonáš

Assistant Director

Milan Klacek, I. Krkošková, Dagmar Nováková

Based on

Václav Kaplický (Kladivo na čarodějnice – román)

Second Unit Photography

Adolf Hejzlar

Production Designer

Karel Škvor

Art Director

Ester Krumbachová

Set Designer

Stanislav Krejča, Karel Lukáš, Karel Smrž

Costume Designer

Jarmila Konečná

Make-Up Artist

Jiří Šimon, Libuše Švejdová, J. Novák

Film Editor

Antonín Zelenka

Production Manager

Jaroslav Solnička

Unit Production Manager

František Jaderník, Ludmila Tikovská

Unit Production Manager

Milan Štěch

Consultant

prof. PhDr. Ing. arch. Václav Mencl, DrSc., František Spurný

Music

Music Composed by

Jiří Srnka

Music Performed by

FISYO, Česká filharmonie, Pražští madrigalisté

Songs

Vojenská píseň

Songwriter

Jiří Srnka (Vojenská píseň)

Writer of Lyrics

Ester Krumbachová (Vojenská píseň)

Singer

Pražští madrigalisté (Vojenská píseň)

Production info

Original Title

Kladivo na čarodějnice

English Title

The Witch Hunt

Copyright

1969

Production Year

1969

Premiere

23.01.1970

Creative Group

Šebor – Bor, Vladimír Bor, Jiří Šebor

Technical info

Format

Betacam, DVD, HD

Versions

Czech

Awards

Vítěz

Festival: 4. festival českých a slovenských filmů FINÁLE Plzeň

1990
Plzeň / Czechoslovakia

Vítěz

Festival: 10. mezinárodní filmový festival Mar del Plata

1970
Mar de Plata / Argentina
Otakar Vávra

Vítěz

Festival: 10. mezinárodní filmový festival Mar del Plata

1970
Mar de Plata / Argentina
Otakar Vávra