Island of the Silver Herons

drama

Typology

feature

Czech title

Ostrov stříbrných volavek

Runtime

75

Country

Czechoslovakia, German Democratic Republic

Copyright

1976

Production year

1976

Premiere

21.01.1977

Language version

Czech

Director

Jaromil Jireš

Screenplay

František Pavlíček (pod jménem Věry Kalábové), Inge Wüste-Heym

Summary

An East German-Czechoslovak co-production inspired by a tale from author Ladislav Dvorský. The film tells the story of three German boys, confronted at the end of the First World War with some fundamental truths about human nature. Overcoming their different social backgrounds, Paul, Willi and Heinrich have formed solid friendships. When the trio helps to hide two war deserters, Heinrich enters a world of conflict. At home, the youngster has been raised in a climate of strong patriotism and duty. Ultimately, he discovers that his strict, militant grandfather once played a major role in the fate of his family... This 1976 historical drama is a signature effort by director Jaromil Jireš, who during the “normalisation” era tended to focus more on detached, lyrical projects lacking a personal authorial stamp. Among the German-Czech cast, Vladimír Dlouhý excels as the deserter Tony. Eighteen-year-old Iva Bittová marks her film debut in the minor role of artiste Tereza.

Synopsis

The late summer of 1918. Paul, Willi and Heinrich from an age-old German town are good friends, although there is a great deal that divides them. Heinrich comes from an officer's family with an army tradition and is preparing to enter cadet college. Paul's father and grandfather are workers, and Willi, left to depend on himself, works as a hotel messenger. The last year of the war is hard for everyone, but while Paul and Willi know their own minds and do not hesitate to help the war fugitives Tony and Sepp, for Heinrich everything is more complicated. He respects the rules that have been harshly instilled in him by his grandfather Colonel von Bülow, but he still cannot bring himself to betray the deserters in hiding. He also senses that the death of his father at the front is surrounded by a mystery that neither his mother nor grandfather is willing to explain. The gendarmes and militia are looking for the escaped men and also following up hints of a planned rebellion. The trail leads them to the island of herons where the three friends have often spent moments of leisure together. Sepp falls into the hands of the commander von Bülow. From their conversation Heinrich realizes that his grandfather is guilty of the death of his father. Sepp grabs the colonel's gun and forces him to call off the search. The colonel treacherously aims a hunting rifle secretly hidden at Sepp, but Heinrich dashes it to the ground and leaves the colonel with words of contempt. Tony, however, hidden is shot by the gendarmes. The boys' friendship continues.

Note

In the introductory titles of the film, Věra Kalábová let her name be used instead of the screenplay writer František Pavlíček, who could not be credited as the author at the time for political reasons.

Cast

Erwin Geschonneck

plukovník von Bülow

Günter Naumann

zběh Sepp Erdmann

Vladimír Dlouhý

dezertér Tony

Michal Vavruša

student Heinrich, plukovníkův vnuk

Petr Voříšek

Paul Meyer, Heinrichův kamarád

Tomáš Vacek

poslíček Willi, Heinrichův kamarád

Heidemarie Wenzel

Hilda von Bülow, Heinrichova matka

Iva Bittová

artistka Tereza

Wolfgang Greese

velitel četnictva

Erich Mirek

děda Meyer

Jaromír Joo

cirkusák Jan Král

Gabriela Najmanová

Králova žena

Jindřich Joo

Králův syn

Vladimír Navrátil

zatčený dělník

Hannes Stelzer

dělník

Jaromír Vaverka

dělník

Peter Kalisch

přednosta stanice

Dieter Knust

jezdecký důstojník

Frank Ciazynski

poddůstojník

Klaus Tilsner

Gustav, příkazník u Bülowa

Karel Chromík

dělník/strojvůdce

Brigitte Beier

přednostova žena

Hans-Gotthilf Brown

jízdní četník

Klaus Ebeling

jízdní četník

Werner Ehrlicher

jízdní četník

Harald Engelmann

jízdní četník

Ernst Peter Berndt

hoteliér

Arnold Kern

harmonikář

Eberhard Dörner

válečný invalida

Holm Henning Freier

mladý důstojník

Else Sanden

hospodyně

Jürgen Hölzel

jízdní důstojník

Peter Veith

starý voják

Karl Chalas

důstojník domobrany

Michael Englberger

četník

Detlef Willecke

četník

Nita Romanečová

stařena u okna

Wolfgang Eckstein

muž s dogou

Wolfgang Bathke

strážný

Alois Čuřík

dělník

Dubbing

Ota Sklenčka

hlas von Bülowa

Petr Haničinec

hlas Seppa

Michal Pešek

hlas Heinricha

Viola Zinková

hlas Hildy von Bülow

Jana Šulcová

hlas Terezy

Luděk Kopřiva

hlas velitele četnictva

Josef Větrovec

hlas dědy Meyera

Eva Svobodová

hlas hospodyně

Crew and creators

Second Unit Director

Michael Englberger

Assistant Director

Jiří Světlík, Anna Lackovičová

Based on

Ladislav Dvorský (Ostrov stříbrných volavek – povídka)

Screenplay

František Pavlíček (pod jménem Věry Kalábové), Inge Wüste-Heym

Second Unit Photography

Oldřich Hubáček

Camera Operator

Bohumír Schwarzer

Set Designer

Vladimír Ježek, Žák Jiří (2), Ladislav Winkelhöfer

Costume Designer

Svatava Sophová

Film Editor

Josef Valušiak

Production Manager

Zdeněk Oves, Oscar Ludmann

Unit Production Manager

Jaroslav Vágner, Detlef Willecke, Karel Prchal, Werner Fritzsche

Unit Production Manager

Tomáš Baloun

Consultant

Charly Vogel

Cooperation

Olga Kourová, Vladimír Souček, Růžena Hejsková, Jana Šimonová

Music

Music Composed by

Luboš Fišer

Music Performed by

FISYO, Hudební sbor lidové armády Magdeburg

Music Conducted by

František Belfín (FISYO)

Production info

Original Title

Ostrov stříbrných volavek

English Title

Island of the Silver Herons

Parallel Title

Die Insel der Silberreiher

Copyright

1976

Production Year

1976

Premiere

21.01.1977

Creative Group

Ota Hofman, Roter Kreis

Technical info

Format

35mm

Versions

Czech

Awards

Vítěz

Festival: 17. festival filmů pro děti Gottwaldov

1977
Zlín / Czechoslovakia
Bohumil Pokorný

Vítěz

Festival: 17. festival filmů pro děti Gottwaldov

1977
Zlín / Czechoslovakia
Jaromil Jireš

Vítěz

Festival: 15. festival českých a slovenských filmů Bratislava

1977
Bratislava / Czechoslovakia
Jaromil Jireš

Vítěz

Festival: 17. festival filmů pro děti Gottwaldov

1977
Zlín / Czechoslovakia
Marlene Willmann