Novelette

biography

Typology

feature

Czech title

Romaneto

Runtime

87

Country

Czechoslovakia

Copyright

1980

Production year

1980

Premiere

27.03.1981

Language version

Czech

Director

Jaroslav Soukup

Screenplay

Jaroslav Soukup

Screenstory

Rudolf Ráž

Summary

Following his feature-film debut Drsná planina (Rough Life at Planina, 1979), about the difficult lives of Czechoslovak border guards, writer-director Jaroslav Soukup threw himself into a romantic drama bringing to life the personality and works of writer Jakub Arbes (1840–1914). The film tells the story of the young journalist Arbes who partakes in an unjust trial against three demonstrating workers. At the same time, he joins the oddball Xaverius in studying an altarpiece, which is supposed to point to great fortunes. In Romaneto (Novelette, 1980), the Czech writer and journalist is presented as a progressive author, but also as the creator of dark, compelling works, with his Svatý Xaverius (Saint Xaverius, 1873) serving as a template. This stylised film sees Viktor Preiss in the lead role. Xavier is portrayed by Pavel Pavlovský. To maximise authenticity, Soukup filmed in various interiors within Prague’s Old Town.

Synopsis

The seventies of the nineteenth century. A young journalist Jakub Arbes from the newspaper Národní listy follows unwillingly a trial with three workers who were running from a demonstration place and despite the call of the police they did not stop. The senior police councillor Dedera denies that the police officers shot in the participants. Arbes has had already several disputes with the arrogant officer and he decides to convict him of a perjury. Arbes meets a young eccentric Xaverius who explores a picture of his saint namesake in the Saint Nicolas Church. A former revolutionary and an able journalist Rainer offer to Arbes his articles. A newspaper publisher Dr Grégr agrees only on condition that Rainer will write under another name. Arbes knows well the miserable life of poor people in Prague and he always tries to do something for them. The city is hit by cholera epidemics and in many streets burns fires in which property of the dead are burnt. Dedera's police officers remove all witnesses for defence. Arbes learns from the prostitute Fryna that Rainer is Dedera's agent. Arbes goes with the seriously ill Xaverius outside of the city to dig out a treasure to which a trace was found by Xaverius on the picture. In the meantime Dedera captures papers of Arbes in an unruly house search. Grégr sacks Arbes, as this is a condition for a financial loan provided to him by a Dedera's friend - a banker. Xaverius is dying without finding out that the treasure has no value. The writer Neruda recommends to his friend Arbes to elaborate his eccentric friend's story in a literary form. He even finds a name for the new genre - novelette.

Note

The film was made at the occasion of the 140th birth anniversary of Jakub Arbes. The director used for shooting in the interiors some realistic locations of the basements and ground floors of various houses in the Prague Old Town where the Řempo company warehouses used to be. The part of opera singer, singing the aria "Ombra mai fu", was performed with great enthusiasm by an extra whose name is uknown to the director.

Cast

Viktor Preiss

spisovatel Jakub Arbes, redaktor Národních listů

Radovan Lukavský

novinář Josef Rainer alias Janus

Petr Kostka

spisovatel Jan Neruda

Radoslav Brzobohatý

vydavatel JUDr. Julius Grégr, majitel Národních listů

Jana Riháková

Josefina, Arbesova žena

Jana Gýrová

prostitutka Fryna

Jana Šulcová

Amálie Bellmannová

Jiří Pleskot

vrchní policejní rada Dedera

Vladimír Ráž

nakladatel Bellmann, strýc Amálie

Alois Švehlík

zámečník Stankovský

Rudolf Jelínek

učitel kreslení František Novopacký

Jan Skopeček

dělník Čihák

Karel Šebesta

bankéř Wiedermann, Dederův přítel

Jiří Tomek

JUDr. Čížek

Karel Urbánek

tajný policista Jedlička

Jan Řeřicha

redaktor Tůma

Ota Sklenčka

nakladatel Šimůnek

Vilém Besser

redaktor Heller, Arbesův kolega

Zdeněk Dítě

kabaretiér Castelli

Ferdinand Krůta

sazeč Hurych

Jiří Samek

policejní komisař

Gustav Opočenský

hostinský Franc

Zdeněk Hodr

kostelník u sv. Mikuláše

Karel Augusta

vrchní žalářník

Vladimír Krška

předseda soudu

Josef Chvalina

žalobce Jarosch

Ladislav Šimek

tajný/kočí

Pavel Rubeš

tajný

Bohumil Vávra

hostinský Josef

Václav Mareš

MUDr. Michl

Lena Birková

starší herečka/dáma se závojem

Bohuslav Ličman

postřelený dělník Josef Kerbr

Luisa Kollingerová

prodavačka pečených kaštanů

Dalimil Klapka

písař na notářství

Viktor Maurer

vetešník

Ladislav Navrátil

dozorce Koubek

Růžena Smolíková

tlustá Dona Isabella

Oto Ševčík

leutnant Koller, Frynin zákazník

Jaroslava Tichá

Rainerova žena

Jaroslav Konečný

hostinský

Zdeňka Vanišová

klavíristka

Rudolf Klouda

houslista

Jiří Vlček

tetovaný muž

Oldřich Vlach

strážník Kouba

Pavel Jiras

strážník

Karel Knechtl

strážník

Vlastimila Vlková

žena v hospodě

Crew and creators

Second Unit Director

Jiří Ostrý

Assistant Director

Hana Hanušová, Dagmar Zelenková, R. Volný

Screenstory

Rudolf Ráž

Screenplay

Jaroslav Soukup

Shooting Script

Jaroslav Soukup

Script Editor

Věra Kalábová

Second Unit Photography

Michal Krob

Camera Operator

Jiří Ondráček

Production Designer

Jiří Matolín

Set Designer

Karel Krejčí, Eva Slívová, Karel Vaňásek

Costume Designer

Jan Kropáček

Film Editor

Jiří Brožek

Sound Designer

Jiří Hora

Production Manager

Jiří Beránek

Unit Production Manager

Tomáš Baloun, Vlasta Synkulová

Unit Production Manager

Miloš Zajdl

Cooperation

Irena Neubertová, Zdeněk Dukát, Eva Horázná, Jozef Hrabušický

Music

Music Composed by

Zdeněk Barták

Selected Music

Georg Friedrich Händel (Xerxes /árie Ombra mai fu/)

Music Performed by

FISYO, skupina Zdeňka Bartáka ml.

Music Conducted by

Mario Klemens (FISYO)

Songs

Ombra mai fu

Songwriter

Georg Friedrich Händel (Ombra mai fu)

Writer of Lyrics

Nicolo Minato (Ombra mai fu)

Production info

Original Title

Romaneto

English Title

Novelette

Copyright

1980

Production Year

1980

Premiere

27.03.1981

Creative Group

Miloš Brož

Technical info

Format

35mm , Betacam

Versions

Czech

Awards

Vítěz

Festival: 18. filmový festival mladých Trutnov

1981
Trutnov / Czechoslovakia
Jaroslav Soukup

Vítěz

Festival: 32. filmový festival pracujících – léto ´81

1981
62 měst / Czechoslovakia
Richard Valenta

Vítěz

Festival: 19. festival českých a slovenských filmů Kladno

1981
Kladno / Czechoslovakia

Vítěz

Festival: 18. filmový festival mladých Trutnov

1981
Trutnov / Czechoslovakia
Richard Valenta