On the Comet

fantastic

Typology

feature

Czech title

Na kometě

Runtime

75

Country

Czechoslovakia

Copyright

1970

Production year

1970

Premiere

09.10.1970

Language version

Czech

Director

Karel Zeman

Screenplay

Jan Procházka, Karel Zeman

Summary

Following the films Vynález zkázy (An Invention for Destruction, 1958) and Ukradená vzducholoď (The Stolen Airship, 1966), artist and director Karel Zeman returned for the third and final time to the works of visionary French writer Jules Verne. This loose adaptation of the 1877 novel Off on a Comet is also a distinctive combination of live-action and animated sequences, inspired by the original illustrations found in Verne’s books. Similarly to his well-received previous films, Zeman once again presents Verne’s world through ironic, but heartfelt tones in this 1970 motion picture. The novel relates an adventure tale in which a group of brave characters travel the solar system, revealing to readers some of the contemporary knowledge of our cosmic backyard. But Zeman and screenwriter Jan Procházka took the story of the bold Captain Hector Servadac and interpreted this tale as one bringing forth Old World nostalgia, while picking up on its contemporary elements of widespread social intolerance. The young geometrician lead character is a member of a French garrison in an African colony whose inhabitants are resisting usurpers. There is also a sheikh, who has no qualms about joining forces with the Spanish consulate. But the bloody battle is interrupted by the arrival of a comet, which tears off a section of the earth’s crust, and takes it off on an adventure to the planet Mars. Unlike the novel on which it is based, the film also features an additional love story component featuring Hector and the beautiful Angelica. With an approach familiar from his previous works, the ballad-like Na kometě sees Karel Zeman not just focusing his attentions on the great visuals, but also on a terrific cast. Emil Horváth and Magda Vášáryová take the lead roles, supported by the likes of František Filipovský, Vladimír Menšík and Jiřina Jirásková. But the lion’s share of the task of bringing to life this complex Zeman project was assumed by cinematographer Rudolf Stahl – working for the first time with the director – and also by special effects maestro Bohuslav Pikhart. The latter worked with Zeman on the aforementioned two Verne adaptations as well as on Baron Prášil (Baron Műnchausen, 1961) and Bláznova kronika (A Jester's Tale, 1964). Na kometě (On the Comet) received an award at the Venice Film Festival (CIDALC Award and Medal Biennale), and ultimately became the last Zeman feature film to contain live-action elements.

Synopsis

Lieutenant Servadac, a member of the French garrison in an African colony, is intrigued during his walk by a portrait of a beautiful girl in the marketplace. While delineating the seashore, Servadac falls into the sea. He cannot swim but luckily he is saved by Angelica, a girl as like as two peas to the girl from the portrait, who has just managed to escape a group of kidnappers from a steamboat. An unprecedented phenomenon appears in the sky – a second sun, which is in fact a comet. Servadac takes Angelica to the citadel, where Colonel Picard has also invited the Spanish consul, unaware that the consul has been conspiring with the sheikh and the natives to prepare a rebellion against the French. The consul's infernal machine fails at the very moment when the comet passes the Earth and pulls with it part of the African continent, including the French colony. Servadac finds out that the comet is heading to Mars, into which it is most probably going to crash. The approach of death changes the behaviour of people. Servadac and Angelica declare their love to each other, enemies become friends, the natives refuse to fight. Servadac's calculations, however, are mistaken, and as soon as Servadac reveals that there is no threat, everything returns to the beaten track – the consul again begins to plot to seize the African territory with the sheikh. The revengeful brothers take Angelica to Sicily on a fishing boat. Servadac jumps into the sea to follow them. On the seashore, batman Ben wakes up his master, who is holding the portrait of the beautiful Angelica in his hand.

Cast

Emil Horváth ml.

geometr poručík Servadac

Magda Vášáryová

Angelika, dívka z Valencie

František Filipovský

plukovník Picard

Čestmír Řanda

španělský konzul

Vladimír Menšík

židovský hrnčíř Silberman

Jiřina Jirásková

Ester, hrnčířova žena

Karel Effa

kaprál Ben

Jaroslav Mareš

kaprál Lafitte

Josef Hlinomaz

kapitán Lacoste

Jaroslav Štercl

námořník s klíči

Karel Pavlík

Oliphant

Zdena Bronislavská

tanečnice v kavárně

Zdeněk Braunschläger

koloniální voják

Jiří Lír

dělostřelec Ali

Pavel Libovický

Antonio, bratr Angeliky

Jaroslav Klouda

Pepino, bratr Angeliky

Hanuš Bor

Luigi

Vladimír Hrubý

turecký voják

Antonín Soukup

voják na stráži

Václav Kaňkovský

kormidelník

Dimitrij Turčaninov

tanečník na lodi

Jiří Paclík

tanečník na lodi

František Doleček

tanečník na lodi

Zdeněk Formánek

tanečník na lodi

Ivan Chrz

unesený námořník

Bohumil Koška

důstojník na koni

Pavel Jiras

velitel děla

Teresia Elad

domorodkyně

M.L. Lukongo

domorodkyně

Jean Lifendi

domorodec

Michael Kodais

Arab

Antoine Massouh

Arab

Josef Matar

Arab

Mušrik Rahbány

Arab

Willy Kuk-Znamínko

arabský číšník

Eva Rubínová

orientální tanečnice

Marta Richterová

orientální tanečnice

Lolka Šoupalová

orientální tanečnice

Taťána Unkurovová

orientální tanečnice

Blažena Kramešová

orientální tanečnice

Iva Šašková

krásná Arabka

Oldřich Velen

majitel harému

Ladislav Gzela

námořník

Miloš Vosmanský

námořník

B.K. Sarap

nosič

Duggirala Visweswaram

nosič

Zdeněk Vašek

Turek

Jaroslav Tomsa

kaskadér

Karel Engel

kaskadér

Miloslav Šindler

dubl za Větrovce

Vladimír Navrátil

dubl za Řandu

Dubbing

Jan Tříska

hlas poručíka Servadaca

Jana Drbohlavová

hlas Angeliky

Crew and creators

Director

Karel Zeman

Second Unit Director

Milan Vácha

Assistant Director

Ivana Skabranská, Karel Smyczek, Eliška Vojtová

Based on

Jules Verne (Na kometě /Hector Servadac aneb Dobrodružná cesta sluneční soustavou/ – román)

Shooting Script

Karel Zeman

Second Unit Photography

Karel Dobřichovský

Camera Operator

Jiří Pechar

Production Designer

Jiří Hlupý, Zdeněk Ostrčil

Art Director

Karel Zeman

Set Designer

Jan Petrů, Rudolf Žofka, Jiří Žůček

Costume Designer

Jan Kropáček

Film Editor

Josef Valušiak

Special Effects

Bohuslav Pikhart, Arnošt Kupčík, Josef Zeman, Jaroslav Bařinka, František Krčmář

Production Manager

Vladimír Vojta, Zdeněk Stibor

Unit Production Manager

Luděk Marold, Milana Melcerová

Unit Production Manager

Richter Pavel (2)

Cooperation

Miroslava Švestková, Milada Malínská, Gabriela Globočníková, Marta Kaplerová

Music

Music Composed by

Luboš Fišer

Music Performed by

FISYO

Music Conducted by

František Belfín (FISYO)

Production info

Original Title

Na kometě

English Title

On the Comet

Working Title

Archa pana Servadaca

Copyright

1970

Production Year

1970

Premiere

09.10.1970

Creative Group

Ota Hofman

Technical info

Format

Betacam, DVD

Versions

Czech

Awards

Vítěz

Festival: 2. mezinárodní festival fantastických filmů a hororů Paříž

1973
Paříž / France

Vítěz

Festival: 7. mezinárodní festival filmů pro děti a mládež Teherán

1972
Teherán / Iran

Vítěz

Exhibition: 22. přehlídka filmů pro děti a mládež Benátky

1970
Benátky / Italy

Vítěz

Event: Múzy pražských diváků za rok 1969

1970
Praha / Czechoslovakia
Karel Zeman

Vítěz

Exhibition: 22. přehlídka filmů pro děti a mládež Benátky

1970
Benátky / Italy