Aesop

Country

Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria

Copyright

1969

Production year

1968

Premiere

1 April 1990

Runtime

93 min

Category

film

Genre

allegory

Typology

featuretheatrical distributionlong

Original title

Ezop

Czech title

Ezop

English title

Aesop

Parallel title

Ezop

Summary

Bulgarian director Rangel Valčanov found himself in hot water in his homeland upon the release of the Bulgarian-Czechoslovak co-production Ezop (Aesop, 1969), a dramatised parable about the need for freedom. Somewhat paradoxically he then moved on to Czechoslovakia to make two films with Czech actors during the “normalisation” period: Tvář pod maskou (The Masked Face, 1970) and Šance (Chance, 1971). However, his eclectic film Ezop was not seen in Czech cinemas until 1990. The script is a stylised “biography” of the ancient fabulist – a slave who, in Valčanov’s interpretation, openly opposes the iniquities of his masters. The vital and witty slave yearns for freedom, embodied by the beautiful slave girl Rhodopis. Unfortunately she is the property of the powerful Amazise, who acts to ensure Aesop’s removal... The film’s cameraman is Andrei Barla, the music is the work of Zdeněk Liška and Ester Krumbachová designed the costumes. Several roles were played by Czech actors.

Synopsis

The location is the Island of Samos in the Aegean Sea, the time approximately 600 BC. At the market, captives from Phryigia are being sold into slavery. The beautiful Rhodopis would prefer to take her own life, but her former slave Asarakos, known as Aesop, reassures her. The army commander Polyphemus is the first to purchase the girl. Next she becomes a slave to the poetess Sappho, who gives her to the Egyptian pharaoh Amasis. The proud Delphic priest Kobon examines Aesop's teeth before buying him and Aesop bites his finger appart, for which he gets a whipping. Aesop is extremely witty and mischievous and comments on each situation in which he finds himself with a fable warning of the dangers of the loss of freedom and democracy. At a festivity organized by Sappho, he secretly eavesdrops on a poetry reading and, enchanted, forgets he is a slave. At night, he gets together with Rhodopis, who openly flirts with the enamoured man. The jealous Amasis takes his mistress and slave Rhodopis away to Egypt. Aesop longs to win his freedom in order to be able to join his beloved, but he finds himself a victim of power games among the emperors of his era. He wins the freedom that he has longed for, but Kobon has not forgotten his revenge. He plants a golden goblet among Aesop's belongings and sentences him to death for theft. Not a single person who has benefited from his native wit, including Rhodopis, pleads in favour of him, and Aesop is hurled down a cliff.

Note

The first copy of the film was produced on the 17th of May 1969. The film did not win official approval in Czechoslovakia, it was not distributed and was first shown only in 1990. In Bulgaria, its première took place on the 16th of June 1970.

Cast

Georgi Kalojančev

Voice by Soběslav Sejk
otrok a bajkař Asarakos zvaný Ezop

Miroslav Macháček

diktátor Polyfimos

Radovan Lukavský

velekněz Kobon

Doroteja Tončeva

Voice by Milena Dvorská
princezna, později otrokyně Rhodopis

Violeta Antonova

Voice by Slávka Budínová
básnířka Sapfó

Zdeněk Kryzánek

lýdský vladař Krésos

Petr Čepek

faraon Amazis

František Filipovský

obchodník s otroky

Josef Abrhám

prodavač papoušků

Josef Kemr

filozof Xanthos

Stojanka Mutafova

Kasandra, Xanthova žena

Petr Vučkov

Voice by Vladimír Stach
Krésův první vyslanec

Najčo Petrov

Voice by Jan Schánilec
obchodník s otroky

Dimitr Bočev

strážný

Rangel Valčanov

člen chóru

Konstantin Kocev

Voice by Mirko Musil
věštec

Džoko Rosić

Voice by Karel Pavlík
Trimat, Krésův druhý vyslanec

Eva Schoberová

dívka z družiny Sapfó

Ivana Herglotzová

dívka z družiny Sapfó

Jan Cmíral

delfský důstojník

Marcela Březinová (2)

tanečnice

Jana Kopecká

tanečnice

Gita Picková

tanečnice

Eva Poslušná

tanečnice

Jana Rychmanová

tanečnice

Eva Zakouřilová

tanečnice

Jan Diviš

důstojník

D. Atanasov

Atanas Božinov

Boris Radivenski

Dubbing

Stanislav Fišer

hlas Xanthova žáka

Jindřich Janda

hlas občana Sámosu

Ladislav Krečmer

hlas občana Sámosu

Oldřich Lukeš

hlas občana Sámosu

Jan Pohan

hlas občana Sámosu

Jan Sedliský

hlas občana Sámosu

Crew and creators

Second Unit Director

Tomáš Kulík, Petr Batalov

Assistant Director

Rajna Jončeva, Marta Křesinová

Continuity

Anny Petrova

Shooting Script

Rangel Valčanov, Anžel Vagenštajn

Director of Photography

Andrej Barla

Second Unit Photography

Venec Dimitrov

Camera Operator

Jozef Müller

Production Designer

Boris Moravec, Ranďu Randev

Assistent Production Designer

Miloš Červinka

Set Designer

Miroslav Fára, Karel Kočí, Vladimir Odžakov

Assistant Film Editor

Štěpánka Stříbrná

Sound Designer

Jaromír Svoboda, Emil Pavlov, Lubomír Zajíc (česká verze)

Production Manager

Gustav Rohan, Valčo Draganov

Unit Production Manager

Jan Syrový, Dana Dudová

Unit Production Manager

Milena Andrejsková

Cooperation

Zorka Chrastinová (klapka), Alena Červená (fotografka)

Music

Music Composed by

Zdeněk Liška

Music Performed by

FISYO (Music Conducted by František Belfín), Kühnův smíšený sbor (Music Conducted by Pavel KühnMarkéta Kühnová)

Production info

Original Title

Ezop

Czech Title

Ezop

English Title

Aesop

Parallel Title

Ezop

Category

film

Typology

featuretheatrical distribution

Genre

allegory

Origin country

Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria

Copyright

1969

Production Year

1968

Production specifications

literary Screenplay approved 25 January 1968
start of filming 16 July 1968
end of filming 5 December 1968
the first film copy approved 27 May 1969
projection approval 7 September 1969 (neschváleno do distribuce)
the first film copy approved 7 September 1969

Premiere

premiere abroad 26 June 1970 (Sofia, Bulharsko)
premiere 1 April 1990 /unsuitable for youths/

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

93 min

Original length in metres

2 650 meters

Distribution carrier

16mm, 35mm

Aspect ratio

1:2,35

Colour

colour

Sound

sound

Sound system/format

mono

Versions

Czech

Dialogue languages

Czech

Subtitles languages

without subtitles

Opening/End credits languages

Czech