Fires on Potato Fields

Country

Czechoslovakia

Copyright

1976

Production year

1976

Premiere

15 April 1977

Runtime

95 min

Category

film

Genre

psychological

Typology

featuretheatrical distributionlong

Original title

Dým bramborové natě

Czech title

Dým bramborové natě

English title

Fires on Potato Fields

Working title

Doktor Meluzin

Summary

The 1970s were a difficult time for the director František Vláčil: the artist, who made an indelible mark on the previous decade with the historical films Marketa Lazarová, Údolí včel (The Valley of the Bees) (both 1967) and Adelheid (1969), only got another opportunity to make a feature film in 1976. However, Vláčil and his screenwriter Václav Nývlt managed to rework the “recommended” original book, Doktor Meluzín by Bohumil Řiha, to such an extent that it resulted in a movie which was qualitatively far beyond the productions of that time. The authors used only the final part of the adapted novel, which is a typical example of biased literature. Moreover, Vláčil’s first feature set in contemporary times has the same balladic qualities that were typical of the director’s historical opuses. The protagonist – a reputable old Prague physician called Meluzín – has to content himself with a post as a “country doctor” after his wife emigrates. In the local health centre, he meets with hostility and incomprehension, but his expertise and humane approach win him the respect of his doubtful new colleagues and mistrusting patients… The ideological tone of the original book gives way to an introspective story about a successful, aging specialist who has to re-evaluate his life and embrace nature as well as the human aspect of his profession. Rudolf Hrušínský, who was politically inconvenient at the time, excels in the film’s starring role. He had been rigorously backed for the lead role by František Vláčil. The casting of the other parts also demonstrated the director’s eye for actors who could give their characters a visceral authenticity. A good example of this is Věra Galatíková (Pavla Kodetová), who had already played in Vláčil’s The Valley of the Bees. The theme of a man’s melancholic, but fruitful, later years is emphasised by the impressive camerawork of František Uldrich and the music of the experienced composer Zdeněk Liška.

Synopsis

At the airport terminal lobby a husband and wife are parting calmly but seemingly for good. Unlike his wife Ema, the medical doctor Meluzin is returning to his home country. He has become a district doctor in an area that reminds him of his childhood. He is given a room in the healthcare centre next to the flat of a childless Kodet's married couple. The chairman of the Local National Committee Vlach can't stop wondering why Meluzin has left his prestigious position at his former clinic, but in time the considerate doctor wins his trust, and the trust of his patients. Nurse Šimonová is also taken aback by Meluzin's precision and compelled to put the messy filing cabinet in order. The doctor is meticulous, and when his neighbour Petr Kodet confides in him that thay do not have a child, as his wife is not able to get pregnant, he sends them both for examinations. But there is nothing wrong with the wife, teacher Pavla Kodetová. The hot-headed Kodet cannot come to terms with the result, which suggests that it is he who is infertile, and he abandons his wife. The doctor meets the young and wild Markéta who lives in a run-down estate with her tough mother. Markéta is expecting a baby, apparently with Šimonová's son, the ambulance man Ota. Meluzin dissuades her from having an abortion, and when her mother kicks her out of the house, he moves her in with Pavla Kodetová. Markéta has serious complications with her pregnancy and has to go to the hospital, but she escapes and later Pavla finds the girl at her home in a critical condition. Markéta gives birth to a healthy daughter in the ambulance, but dies in the process. Meluzin finds Petr and persuades him to make it up with Pavla, who is devotedly caring for the orphaned Markétka.

Film online

Cast

Rudolf Hrušínský

MUDr. Jan Meluzin

Věra Galatíková

učitelka Pavla Kodetová

Alois Švehlík

traktorista Petr Kodet

Jana Dítětová

zdravotní sestra Žofka Šimonová

Marie Logojdová

Markéta Zitová

Nina Popelíková

Hedvika Zitová, Markétina matka

Josef Somr

správce kachní farmy Alois Vlach zvaný Kačenka

Václav Lohniský

hrobník Jaroš

Jan Faltýnek

podporučík VB Karel Kříž

Vítězslav Jandák

řidič sanitky Ota, syn Šimonové

Věra Tichánková

vdova Půlpánová

Václav Trégl

děda Hybš

Jaroslava Tichá

Ema, Meluzinova žena

Claudi Niubó

letištní úředník

Daniel Novák

Mirek, syn Vlachových

Tomáš Novák

Tomáš, starší syn Vlachových

Josef Střecha

ošetřovatel

Milena Štampová

děvče v sanitce

Vlastimila Vlková

žena u autobusu

Crew and creators

Second Unit Director

Aleš Dospiva

Assistant Director

Tomáš Urban

Script Supervisor

Jana Goetzová

Based on

Bohumil Říha (Doktor Meluzin – román)

Shooting Script

František Vláčil

Script Editor

Oldřich Železný

Director of Photography

František Uldrich

Second Unit Photography

Vladimír Smutný

Camera Operator

Jiří Pechar

Production Designer

Jan Oliva

Assistent Production Designer

Bohumil Nový

Set Designer

Ladislav Winkelhöfer, Petr Hanousek, Antonín Chloupek

Film Editor

Miroslav Hájek

Assistant Film Editor

Magda Hájková, Helena Lehovcová

Sound Designer

František Fabián

Production Manager

Ladislav Novotný

Unit Production Manager

Ctibor Novotný, Jiří Radil

Unit Production Manager

Jaroslav Bouček

Cooperation

Hana Hebrová (klapka), Jaromír Komárek (fotograf)

Music

Music Composed by

Zdeněk Liška

Music Performed by

FISYO (Music Conducted by František Belfín)

Production info

Original Title

Dým bramborové natě

Czech Title

Dým bramborové natě

English Title

Fires on Potato Fields

Working Title

Doktor Meluzin

Category

film

Typology

featuretheatrical distribution

Genre

psychological

Origin country

Czechoslovakia

Copyright

1976

Production Year

1976

Production specifications

literary Screenplay approved 08/1975
technical Screenplay approved 02/1976
start of filming 29 March 1976
end of filming 10 September 1976
projection approval 11 March 1977

Premiere

gala premiere 31 March 1977 (kino Světozor, Praha)
premiere 15 April 1977 /unsuitable for youths/

Creative Group

Dramaturgická skupina Vladimíra Kaliny, Vladimír Kalina (vedoucí dramaturgické skupiny)

Technical info

Duration typology

feature film

Duration in minutes

95 min

Original length in metres

2 770 meters

Distribution carrier

16mm, 35mm

Aspect ratio

1:1,66

Colour

colour

Sound

sound

Sound system/format

mono

Versions

Czech

Dialogue languages

Czech, French

Subtitles languages

without subtitles

Opening/End credits languages

Czech

Awards

Vítěz

Event: Tvůrčí prémie Českého literárního fondu

1978
Praha / Czechoslovakia
František Vláčil

Vítěz

Festival: 15. festival českých a slovenských filmů Bratislava

1977
Bratislava / Czechoslovakia
František Vláčil

Vítěz

Event: Výroční ceny Československého spisovatele

1974
Praha / Czechoslovakia
Bohumil Říha