The Secret of the Steel Town

sci-fi

Typology

feature

Czech title

Tajemství Ocelového města

Runtime

85

Country

Czechoslovakia

Copyright

1978

Production year

1978

Premiere

11.05.1979

Language version

Czech

Director

Ludvík Ráža

Screenplay

Ondřej Vogeltanz, Ludvík Ráža

Summary

The most acclaimed name in Czechoslovak cinema adaptations of the works of French novelist Jules Verne has long been that of director Karel Zeman. Consequently, when director Ludvík Ráža and screenwriter Ondřej Vogeltanz were in the mid-1970s seeking a Verne adventure story to adapt, they knew they would be working in the shadow of a stack of great movies already produced. Zeman had by that time drawn on source works from the writer to make Vynález zkázy (The Deadly Invention, 1958), Ukradená vzducholoď (The Stolen Airship, 1966) and Na kometě (On the Comet, 1968). These films utilise a combination of live-action and animation, specifically drawing on the style of the original book illustrations. The motion picture that eventually appeared thanks to the endeavours of Ráža and Vogeltanz, Tajemství Ocelového města (The Secret of the Steel Town, 1978), is based on the 1879 Verne novel The Begum's Fortune. The film adaptation takes a loose approach to the source material, focusing on bringing to life a realistic adventure story. Regarded as one of director Ráža’s strongest motion pictures, Tajemství Ocelového města (The Secret of the Steel Town) tells the story of two distant relatives – the doctor Sarrasin and professor Janus, who both take a very different approach to the fortunes they inherit. While the humanitarian Sarrasin uses his funds to build the prosperous city of Fortuna, the power-hungry Janus funds the construction of Steel City, within which the destitute inhabitants must toil in a huge munitions plant. Sarrasin’s son-in-law, the engineer Zodiak, disguises himself in order to gain the confidence of Janus. With the help of the orphan Viktor, he foils the inventor’s nefarious plans to take over Fortuna. This somewhat schematic, anti-war themed film for young audiences is nonetheless highly successful at bringing to life the gloomy atmosphere of Steel City, supposed to serve as an example of the devastating and exploitative capitalistic system. Cinematographer Jan Němeček helps bring the film’s visuals to life, having previously showed his skills in Kdo chce zabít Jessii? (Who Wants to Kill Jessie?, 1966) and Ať žijí duchové! (Long Live the Ghosts!, 1977). Also utilising his expertise is set designer Vladimír Labský, who built multifunctional interiors on Barrandov’s Stage 6 for this film. After alterations, they were later used in films including Panna a netvor (The Virgin and the Monster, 1978), Deváté srdce (The Ninth Heart, 1979) and Kočičí princ (Cat Prince, 1979).

Synopsis

Doctor Sarrasin and his distant relative professor Janus used a huge property, they inherited some time ago, in completely different ways. Sarrasin has built a town of Fortuna for the common good of its citizens; Janus has built a war industrial plant factory in Steel Town, which is a prison for its inhabitants. Sarrasin suspects Janus is going to attack his Fortuna. His liaison man Garmond, who has been working in Steel Town, has not been heard of for more than a year. Sarrasin's son-in-law, technician Zodiak, disguises and sets off to Janus's town where people watched by the police only work and vegetate. Zodiak witnesses a missile crash, after an explosion of which people get immediately frozen. Now he knows what destiny Janus prepares for Fortuna. He also learns that Garmond is dead. However, he succeeds to find Garmond's son Victor who helps him to kill Janus's man Moltke and sends a warning message to Fortuna. As he looks similar to Moltke, he gets employed with Janus where he works on the construction of a huge gun aimed at destroying Fortuna. Janus reveals his identity and has him and Victor arrested. He tells him also the exact time of the attack. Zodiac does not give up. At night he makes balloons, fills them with gas and launches them to carry Victor. Janus gets him arrested into catacombs inside of the Mount of Kyklop, where the gun is placed. Exhausted Victor brings the message just a few minutes before the time of the expected attack. However, an explosion bursts out over Steel Town. This was the gun which Janus overloaded by 20 per cent. Sarrasin invades Janus's town in a few days and finds his son-in-law alive and Janus and his companions frozen. Sarrasin is an heir of Steel Town. Victor finds his new home in the Zodiak's family.

Note

The studio dressing originally created by the architect Vladimír Labský for the films The Ninth Heart, Virgin and the Monster and Cat Prince were partly used in this film.

Film online

Cast

Martin Růžek

dr. François Sarrasin

Josef Vinklář

profesor chemie Erik Janus

Petr Kostka

novinář hrabě Van Hulshof

Jan Potměšil

Viktor Garmond

Jaromír Hanzlík

ing. Marcel Zodiak, Sarrasinův zeť/ing. Moltke

Taťjana Medvecká

Alice, Marcelova žena

Petr Čepek

Filbank

Vilém Besser

Arminius

Josef Bláha

kapitán, Janusův pobočník

Čestmír Řanda

ředitel chlapeckého internátu

Karel Gult

kameraman

Josef Větrovec

William Mallory

Miroslav Moravec

dělník Lavago

Ferdinand Krůta

hostinský

Viktor Maurer

prodavač textilu

Jan Pohan

rybář

Václav Kotva

dělník

Tomáš Holý

Tomáš, Marcelův syn

Sylva Kamenická

Johanka, Marcelova dcera

Jiří Havel

železničář

Mirko Musil

železničář

Zdeněk Kutil

průvodčí

Zdeněk Srstka

umrzající opilý dělník/kaskadér

Karel Augusta

běžec před autem

Jaroslav Horák

běžec před autem

Martin Hron

běžec před autem

Zdeňka Rosolová

dělnice

Bohumil Vávra

dělník

Josef Velda

dělník

Karel Fiala

novinář

Jiří Kodet

novinář

Milan Mach

novinář

J. Petřík

novinář

Jan Přeučil

důstojník

Jana Bermanová

karnevalová maska

Jan Cmíral ml.

karnevalová maska

Tomáš Juřička

karnevalová maska

Dana Kořalníková

karnevalová maska

Miloslav Machoň

karnevalová maska

Renata Mašková

karnevalová maska

Hana Ornestová

karnevalová maska

Jiřina Rottová

karnevalová maska

Miluše Šplechtová

karnevalová maska

Zuzana Zímová

karnevalová maska

Jan Cmíral

člen městské rady

Jaroslav Kotrba

člen městské rady

Petr Drozda

tajný

Roman Skamene

mladík

Karel Engel

voják/kaskadér

Tomáš Engel

dubl za J. Potměšila

Vladimír Bárta (2)

kaskadér

Stanislav Benda

kaskadér

Jan Brokl

kaskadér

Josef Brož

kaskadér

Jiří Fajt

kaskadér

Josef Hejzlar

kaskadér

František Jákl

kaskadér

Petr Jákl

kaskadér

Arnošt Janeček

kaskadér

Martin Janský

kaskadér

M. Jirásko

kaskadér

Miroslav Jíra

kaskadér

Jaroslav Klenot

kaskadér

Jiří Klenot

kaskadér

Jiří Kraus

kaskadér

P. Křížek

kaskadér

Pavel Myslík

kaskadér

Vladimír Procházka

kaskadér

Jindřich Sejk

kaskadér

Oldřich Semerák

kaskadér

Jaroslav Šanda

kaskadér

J. Šrankota

kaskadér

Stanislav Tůma

kaskadér

Jiří Vach

kaskadér

Pavel Vaněk

kaskadér

Karel Vítek

kaskadér

Jaroslav Vlk

kaskadér

Commentary

Crew and creators

Second Unit Director

Věra Pištěková

Assistant Director

Helena Sýkorová, Jaroslav Hrubeš, Lenka Němečková

Based on

Jules Verne (Tajemství Ocelového města – román)

Shooting Script

Ludvík Ráža

Camera Operator

Ladislav Chroust

Production Designer

Milan Nejedlý

Set Designer

Vladimír Mácha, Václav Pošta, Milan Šteindler

Costume Designer

Irena Greifová

Film Editor

Josef Valušiak

Sound Designer

Pavel Jelínek

Special Effects

Jiří Rumler, Boris Masník, Jiří Berger

Titles Designed by

Boris Masník

Production Manager

Zdeněk Oves

Unit Production Manager

Lev Veltrubský, Jarmila Hanykýřová

Unit Production Manager

Miroslav Šnábl

Consultant

Vladimír Dolínek

Cooperation

Alice Kracíková, Miloš Schmiedberger, Růžena Hejsková, Jana Šimonová, Boris Moravec ml.

Music

Music Composed by

Luboš Fišer

Music Performed by

FISYO

Music Conducted by

František Belfín (FISYO)

Production info

Original Title

Tajemství Ocelového města

English Title

The Secret of the Steel Town

Copyright

1978

Production Year

1978

Premiere

11.05.1979

Creative Group

Ota Hofman, Hlavní redakce vysílání pro děti a mládež Československé televize

Technical info

Format

Betacam, DVD

Versions

Czech

Awards

Vítěz

Festival: 1. mezinárodní filmový festival mladého diváka Laon

1983
Laon / France
Ludvík Ráža

Vítěz

Festival: 19. festival filmů pro děti Gottwaldov

1979
Zlín / Czechoslovakia

Vítěz

Festival: 17. festival českých a slovenských filmů Hradec Králové

1979
Hradec Králové / Czechoslovakia