An Encounter of Shadows

drama, psychological

Typology

feature

Czech title

Schůzka se stíny

Runtime

84

Country

Czechoslovakia

Copyright

1982

Production year

1982

Premiere

01.09.1983

Language version

Czech

Director

Jiří Svoboda

Screenplay

Jiří Svoboda

Screenstory

Jiří Svoboda (režie)

Summary

Written and directed by Jiří Svoboda, this 1982 psychological drama tells the story of two people unable to cope with past traumas. Years ago, Milan Sláma and Barbara Erettová were subjected to medical experiments in a Nazi concentration camp. They meet by chance at an archaeological dig, where the quiet Milan works as a technician while the outwardly well-rounded Barbara has arrived as the wife of a British scientist. For both, the unexpected reunion causes the reopening of old emotional wounds... This expressively filmed project highlights director Jiří Svoboda’s ability to formulate and effectively present a big historical theme. Representing something of an outlier for 1980s Czechoslovak cinema, the film features strong performances from Jana Brejchová and Radoslav Brzobohatý.

Synopsis

The blunt and reserved technician Michal Sláma works on archaeological research of an ancient burial site. His reticence provokes the assistant Molán, an intelligent but frustrated man. He tries to find out something about Sláma but the man resists. He does not tell anyone that he was heavily traumatized by his incarceration in a Nazi concentration camp. The torment he had to experience there comes back to him during sleepless nights. The research head, Professor Horan, invited a British expert, Doctor Erett, to the field site as a consultant. Erett is accompanied by his wife Barbara, much younger than him. Michal is agitated by her presence. He recalls his own, pretty and tolerant wife Marie whom he was unable to love and eventually left her. Horan asks Michal to take Mrs Erett for a trip to a quarry lake. They drive an open jeep on a forest road and Barbara falls out when Michal is forced to slow down abruptly. She, fortunately, is not injured but shouts in Polish in shock. The two also visit an old Jewish cemetery and Barbara entrusts Michal with the information that she has a son who is a doctor in Africa. The strange tension between the two people does not pass unnoticed by Molán and the others. Sláma spots Barbara's postcard with the number 23162 written on it, although the woman claims it to be her friend's phone number. But Michal has the same number - his "sign" from the Dachau concentration camp - tattooed on his forearm. The Eretts decide to leave but are halted by Barbara's bronchopneumonia fit. Horan tells Michal that her entire family was killed by the Nazis during the war and she herself underwent freakish medical experiments as a very young Dachau prisoner. Erett, a member of a Red Cross mission, married the saved girl after the war. Michal, too, was selected for medical experiments which tested the human ability to survive hypothermia. They were aimed at saving the lives of German soldiers falling into the ice-cold sea if an aircraft was shot down or a ship went down. Michal was frozen to temperatures as low as minus twelve degrees Celsius and, after thirty six hours, a young female prisoner was forced to save him under death threat by her bodily heat. Everything suggests that it was none other than Barbara. The Eretts leave. The narrator recalls a line from a Hörderlin poem: Nothing can grow as high and nothing can fall as deep as a human.

Cast

Radoslav Brzobohatý

technik Michal Sláma

Jana Brejchová

Barbara Erettová

Radovan Lukavský

anglický vědec dr. Erett, Barbařin muž

Ilja Racek

asistent dr. Molán

Vlastimil Fišar

profesor Horan, vedoucí archeologického výzkumu

Eva Jakoubková

Marie, Michalova žena

Jan Kačer

psychiatr

Jan Schmid

Michalův bratr Jarka

Jana Synková

švagrová Lidunka

Milena Dvorská

Michalova matka

Štefan Mišovic

Michalův otec

Jan Pohan

tchán, Mariin otec

Michaela Vítová

Alice

Josef Šebek

archeolog Mirek

Svatopluk Matyáš

bratrův šéf

Zuzana Fišárková

šéfova žena

Pavel Nový

řidič zásobování

Ivan Vyskočil

řidič tramvaje

Luděk Kopřiva

dětský lékař

Miroslav Paleček

archeolog Oleg

Michael Janík

archelog

David Prachař

archeolog Želek

Roman Hemala

lékař v Dachau

Vladimír Pospíšil

spolužák Tonda Havránek

Lina Fantová

dívka Kloučková

Isabela Siegelová

Kloučková

Kateřina Jirásková

studentka

Jan Straširipka

student

Markéta Sodomková

studentka

Jana Sedláková

studentka

Lenka Vlachová

Barbara jako dívka

Karel Venzara

klavírista

Petr Drozda

kaskadér

Miroslav Falout

kaskadér

Alena Gablová

kaskadérka

Martin Janský

kaskadér

Jiří Kraus

kaskadér

Pavel Myslík

kaskadér

Josef Pechanec

kaskadér

Oldřich Semerák

kaskadér

Commentary

Dubbing

Vladimír Ráž

hlas Michalova otce

Miroslav Nohýnek

hlas Mirka

Jana Andresíková

hlas lékařky

Crew and creators

Second Unit Director

Zdeněk Flídr

Assistant Director

Jiří Novotný (2), Dana Průchová

Screenplay

Jiří Svoboda

Script Editor

Miloslav Vydra

Second Unit Photography

Jiří Pechar

Camera Operator

Michal Hvozdák

Production Designer

Jaromír Švarc

Set Designer

Dvořák Josef (výprava), Oldřich Halaza, Richard Staněk

Costume Designer

Šárka Hejnová

Film Editor

Josef Valušiak

Sound Designer

Milan R. Novotný

Production Manager

Petr Čapek

Unit Production Manager

Hana Jarošová, Evelyna Vrbová

Unit Production Manager

Jan Kočí

Consultant

Zdeněk Klanica, PhDr. Bohuslav Klíma

Cooperation

Dana Donátová, Jana Šimonová, Jan Svoboda (střih), Roman Květoň, Archeologický ústav AV, Zdeněk Vávra

Music

Music Composed by

Jozef Revallo

Songs

Kolíne, Kolíne

Songwriter

František Kmoch (Kolíne, Kolíne)

Production info

Original Title

Schůzka se stíny

English Title

An Encounter of Shadows

Copyright

1982

Production Year

1982

Premiere

01.09.1983

Creative Group

Miloslav Vydra

Technical info

Format

35mm , Betacam

Versions

Czech

Awards

Vítěz

Festival: 10. mezinárodní filmový festival Salerno

1987
Salerno / Italy

Vítěz

Festival: 27. mezinárodní festival autorského filmu Sanremo

1984
Sanremo / Italy

Vítěz

Festival: 21. festival českých a slovenských filmů Ostrava

1983
Ostrava / Czechoslovakia
Jana Brejchová