The Young Man and the White Whale

drama

Typology

feature

Czech title

Mladý muž a bílá velryba

Runtime

88

Country

Czechoslovakia

Copyright

1978

Production year

1978

Premiere

13.07.1979

Language version

Czech

Director

Jaromil Jireš

Screenplay

Mária Rudlovčáková, Jaromil Jireš

Summary

Surrendering to political pressure in the 1970s, the fiction writer Vladimír Páral abandoned the critical standpoints that featured so strongly in his earlier works. He thus launched his “White Pentalogy” with the novel Mladý muž a bílá velryba (The Young Man and the White Whale, 1973), a work that was transformed into an eponymous film five years later with experienced director Jaromil Jireš behind the camera. The narrative takes place in a chemical plant in Ústí nad Labem where a pretty and manipulative chemical engineer Edita Beningerová secures a job. She has taken the position in order to verify her theories by putting them into practice with the assistance of her ex-husband and chemistry scientist Viktor Panc. Viktor’s young housemate, shift foreman Břeťa Laboutka, falls under the woman’s spell with fateful consequences. The film also lends a prominent role to the symbolic story of the white whale. This amplifies Břeťa’s yearning for a big life achievement. Jireš and his team produced a film that stood head and shoulders above the period’s average fare. It showcased stars such as Jana Brejchová, Eduard Cupák and Ivan Vyskočil.

Synopsis

Good-looking Edita Beningerová arrives at a chemical factory in the North Bohemian town of Ústí nad Labem together with her young assistant Naďa. She is hoping that her ex-husband, outstanding practical chemical engineer Vik Panc, will help her conduct an experiment to validate her proposed theoretical method of isolating cholesterol from lanolin. The success of Edita's invention is crucial for her career at the Prague Institute of Chemistry. Vik's room mate from his hostel Břeťa is thrilled. He will finally meet the mysterious and fascinating Edita about whom he has learned so much from Vik. The nurse Miluška whom Břeťa is dating is nice but boringly ordinary in his eyes, since he has a vivid imagination and a permanent longing for adventure. Břeťa is encouraged by the old boatman Gauss, a former whaler, who says that great deals in life are like the hunt for the rare white whale. The cold and somewhat arrogant Edita takes little notice of Břeťa but nearly pays dearly for her arrogance. With Naďa's help, she finally persuades Vik to conduct a successful experiment but she still needs to test everything in production and only the foreman Břeťa can force the workers to extend their shifts to do evenings and weekends. The offended young man softens only after Edita really begins to take notice of him. Břeťa is in love with Edita, his emotion wins her over and she falls in love for the first time in her life. A powerful solvent is needed for the chemical reaction. All alone in the old, poorly ventilated factory hall, Břeťa uses the cheap but highly poisonous chlorex. The experiment succeeds but Břeťa dies, face to face with his while whale.

Film online

Cast

Eduard Cupák

chemik Viktor Panc zvaný Vik

Ivan Vyskočil

směnový mistr Břeťa Laboutka

Jana Brejchová

ing. Edita Beningerová

Zlata Adamovská

Naďa Frýbortová, Editina asistentka

Zdeněk Blažek

převozník Gauss

Soběslav Sejk

ředitel Bartík

Alois Švehlík

Petr Líbal, Břeťův nadřízený

Karel Heřmánek

Udo Vízner

Bohuslav Čáp

dělník Dobřichovický

Jana Andresíková

dělnice Hanka

Lenka Termerová

těhotná dělnice Brigita

Lída Vostrčilová

sekretářka Šprinclová

Jana Robenková

matka Břeti

Jaroslav Radimecký

otec Břeti

Josef Střecha

vrátný

Jiří Lír

číšník

Jan Kotva

chemik

Karel Hábl

chemik

Dubbing

Jan Kanyza

hlas Ládina

Crew and creators

Second Unit Director

Miloš Kohout

Assistant Director

Michal Vostřez

Script Supervisor

Adriena Váchová

Based on

Vladimír Páral (Mladý muž a bílá velryba – román)

Commentary by

Zdeněk Dufek

Script Editor

Zdeněk Dufek

Second Unit Photography

Michal Kulič

Camera Operator

Milan Kopecký

Production Designer

Oldřich Bosák

Assistent Production Designer

Bohumil Nový

Set Designer

Zdeněk Jeřábek, Rudolf Kinský, Miroslav Stibr, Viktor Gajdoš

Costume Designer

Svatava Sophová

Costumes

Zdena Šnajdarová (vedoucí kostymérka), A. Pavlíková, Eva Vrbovcová

Film Editor

Josef Valušiak

Assistant Film Editor

Růžena Hejsková

Sound Designer

Antonín Kravka

Special Effects

Trikový ateliér FSB

Production Manager

Eliška Nejedlá

Unit Production Manager

Jana Koubová, Ladislav Beneš

Unit Production Manager

Dagmar Jonášová

Consultant

ing. Milan Bareš, CSc., Alois Dočkal, Ing. Augustin Hrdina

Cooperation

Spolek pro chemickou a hutní výrobu Ústí nad Labem, Kaučuk Kralupy n. p., Barbora Brožková (klapka), Otta Pšenička (vrchní osvětlovač), Jan Kuděla (fotograf), Jana Šimonová, Alena Rybová

Music

Music Composed by

Ladislav Štaidl

Music Conducted by

Ladislav Štaidl (Orchestr Ladislava Štaidla), Milivoj Uzelac (FISYO)

Production info

Original Title

Mladý muž a bílá velryba

English Title

The Young Man and the White Whale

Copyright

1978

Production Year

1978

Premiere

13.07.1979

Creative Group

Miroslav Hladký (vedoucí dramaturgické skupiny)

Technical info

Format

Betacam

Versions

Czech

Awards

Vítěz

Festival: 18. mezinárodní filmový festival Panama

1981
Panama / Panama

Vítěz

Festival: 30. filmový festival pracujících – léto ´79

1979
62 měst / Czechoslovakia

Vítěz

Festival: 11. mezinárodní filmový festival Moskva

1979
Moskva / Russia

Vítěz

Festival: 17. filmový festival mladých Trutnov

1979
Trutnov / Czechoslovakia
Ivan Vyskočil

Vítěz

Festival: 17. festival českých a slovenských filmů Hradec Králové

1979
Hradec Králové / Czechoslovakia

Vítěz

Festival: 30. filmový festival pracujících – léto ´79

1979
62 měst / Czechoslovakia
Jana Brejchová