Cuckoo in the Dark Forest

drama

Typology

feature

Czech title

Kukačka v temném lese

Runtime

94

Country

Czechoslovakia, Poland

Copyright

1984

Production year

1984

Premiere

01.05.1985

Language version

Czech

Director

Antonín Moskalyk

Screenplay

Vladimír Körner

Summary

The story of several boys and girls from the Nazi-liquidated village of Lidice who were selected to be Germanised. Inspired by Eduard Pergner’s novel Děti s cedulkou (Children with a Tag, 1982), this 1984 drama from director Antonín Moskalyk strongly borrows from the book. The film tells the story of young Emilka (Miroslava Součková), who thanks to her Aryan appearance is adopted by the German commander of the fictional Kukucka concentration camp (played by noted Soviet actor Oleg Tabakov). In order to save her life, the young girl must, outwardly at least, be seen to adjust to her new life. The story was adapted for the silver screen by the writer Vladimír Körner, who also focused on World War II in other films including Adelheid (Adelheid, 1969), Cukrová bouda (The Little Sugar House, 1980), Zánik samoty Berhof (The Downfall of the Secluded Berghof, 1983) and Pramen života (The Spring of Life, 2000). The latter of these films, directed by Milan Cieslar, tells a story very similar to that told in Kukačka v temném lese (Cuckoo in the Dark Forest). Similarly, Moskalyk was examining Holocaust themes as far back as the 1960s with TV movie Modlitba pro Kateřinu Horowitzovou (A Prayer for Kateřina Horowitz, 1965) and Dita Saxová (Dita Saxová, 1967) – both of these are adaptations of works by Jewish writer Arnošt Lustig.

Synopsis

During the German occupation, Nazis shoot the father of thirteen year old Emilka Fejfarová. Before her mother is arrested, she manages to put her earrings in Emilka's hand. In the institute for research of the Aryan race in Lodz, the fair-haired, blue-eyed Emilka is chosen for a re-education course and is suitable for adoption. After several months, children from a children's home play a fairy tale, About the Snowhite, for people interested in adoption. Otto Kukuck, the commander of the concentration camp in the Baltic, chose Emilka beforehand, according to a photograph. The girl's sadness comes across as Nordic chill and the SS officer is proud of his future daughter. He stopped his Mercedes at a sand dune on the way. Emilka is enchanted by the sea. Soon it comes out that it was mainly Kukuck who wanted a child. His wife, Frída, a strict Lutheran in a wheel chair, does not show much feeling and she takes her mother's earrings away. At school, Emilka is bullied and even physically attacked. She comes home late, dirty and with a torn dress. She has to admit the reason and Kukuck promises her that he will make an end to it. He intervenes harshly. From then Emilka walks home from school with a strong wolf-dog and her schoolmates avoid her. The girl secretly sends a letter to Bohemia, where she asks about her mother's fate. After a Christmas Eve dinner, the Kukucks listen to the radio. The gloomy Wagner music signals their Polish maid, Wanda, that Germans are losing at Stalingrad. Wanda, Emilka's only close person in the house, disappears to a concentration camp because there came a letter to her name from Bohemia. Frída threatens Emilka with the same fate. The girl does not react purposely during an air-raid to Frída's calling who wants to bring her to a shelter. The scared woman gets a stroke and, consequently, she cannot speak. The girl runs to Kukuck and she is shocked when she sees her kind "father" Kukuck shooting prisoners as to a target. In the classroom, children maltreat a weaker schoolmate. On purpose, Emilka makes her clothes dirty and tears them apart, and she stops the chicanery, otherwise she would complain to her father. The mother of Fredy, who was pointed out by the girl as the guilty boy, comes to plead for her son. She agrees that she will wash and sew up everything. Kukuck gives her the too dirty linen of his paralyzed wife, and on top of it he rapes the woman. The war is over, the front is getting near. Kukuck decides to go away and change his identity. He leaves Frída with a full pantry, but he takes Emilka and valuables with him. In the reception camp he tells the allied commission he is a former prisoner. His statement seems to be true and Kukuck gets permission to go to the Western zone. Emilka uses his absence, takes her earrings from a jewellery box and runs away. An accordionist steals the left alone rucksack and, on the bottom, finds a picture of Kukuck in the SS uniform. After Kukuck's return from the commission, a silent crowd is awaiting him with a rope. When he does not hang himself, people catch and kill him. After the liberation, Emilka meets her mother, who is lying in hospital.

Cast

Miroslava Součková

Emilka Fejfarová

Oleg Tabakov

velitel koncentračního tábora Otto Kukuck

Alicja Jachiewicz

Frída, Kukuckova manželka

Míla Myslíková

Frau Kramer, ředitelka Dětského domova /Kinderheimu/

Vilém Besser

německý řídící učitel

Rafal Wieczyński

Stašek, Emilčin kamarád

Jana Andresíková

Frau Höpfner

Věra Vlčková

Frau Melnik

Jolanta Grusznic

služka Wanda

Karel Bělohradský

Kukuckův šofér

Pavel Trávníček

velitel Krumey

Zdeněk Martínek

vrchní lékař SS

Lena Birková

vychovatelka v Kinderheimu

Vlasta Peterková

listonoška

Jaroslava Tichá

Emilčina maminka

Alena Karešová

Frau Lütke

Adolf Filip

vězeň Josef, řemeslník

Miroslav Grác

vězeň-řemeslník

Zbigniew Bartoszek

Němec před identifikační komisí

Henryk Hunko

Němec před identifikační komisí

Igor Kujawski

vězeň č.16710

Maciej Sylwester Maciejewski

adjutant SS Knopke

Józef Kaczyński

starý vězeň v koncentračním táboře

Kazimierz Wysota

britský voják

Adam Baumann

německý strážný v koncentračním táboře

Irena Laskowska

úřednice identifikační komise

Joachim Lamża

harmonikář

Ferdynand Matysik

britský člen komise

Mikuláš Hořánek

žák Fredy Melnik

Radek Krčil

Roller

Barbora Lukešová

německá dívka

Monika Nosková

německá dívka

Pavel Myslík

Emilčin otec

Jan Novák (dítě)

kluk

Zdeněk Novotný

lékař SS Bongue

Miloslav Šindler

zapisující gestapák

Jan Trávníček

Silichovo dvojče

Martin Trávníček

Silichovo dvojče

Ondřej Trávníček

německé dítě

Dalibor Vachulka

Jürgen Heller, spolužák Emilky

Martin Bláha

německý kluk

Lubor Kallus

německý kluk

Andrzej Bielski

člen identifikační komise

Mieczysław Janowski

člen alianční komise

Jerzy Pieszka

americký voják

Jiří Ployhar (2)

Dubbing

Sylva Sequensová

hlas Emilky

Petr Kostka

hlas Kukucka

Věra Galatíková

hlas Frídy

Rudolf Pellar

hlas velitele Krumeye

Oldřich Vízner

hlas vězně č. 16710

Boris Rösner

hlas adjutanta Knopkeho

Pavel Zedníček

hlas harmonikáře

Bohumil Švarc

hlas člena identifikační komise

Ivo Niederle

hlas člena identifikační komise

Leoš Kaltofen

hlas člena identifikační komise

Crew and creators

Second Unit Director

Helena Rohanová, Andrzej Swat

Assistant Director

Markéta Jiroušková, Kryštof Hanzlík, Zdenka Barochová

Based on

Eduard Pergner (Děti s cedulkou – kniha povídek), Z. K. Slabý (Děti s cedulkou – kniha povídek)

Shooting Script

Antonín Moskalyk

Script Editor

Libuše Hofmanová

Second Unit Photography

Pavel Dosoudil

Camera Operator

Antonín Mařík, Lubomír Moravec

Set Designer

Janusz Dwornik, Jaroslav Chytrý, Andrzej Holc, Michal Nedvěd, Jerzy Radziwoń, Karel Smrž

Costume Designer

Libuše Pražáková

Film Editor

Josef Valušiak

Sound Designer

Vojtěch Voráček

Production Manager

Miroslav Dousek, Tadeusz Lampka

Unit Production Manager

Stefan Napiórkowski, Eva Charvátová, Wiesława Karwańska, Zbigniew Żmigrodzki, Milana Melcerová

Unit Production Manager

Zdeněk Hurník, Juliusz Donajski, Ewa Prokop, Jerzy Pieszka

Consultant

Vlastislav Kroupa, MUDr. František Picek, Franciszek Szydełko (práce se zvířaty)

Cooperation

Edmund Siekierski, Dagmar Císařovská, Tomáš Červenka, Martina Petrů, Aleksander Wołowski, Jana Šimonová, Jacek Ryniewicz, Miroslaw Marchwiński, Jan Svoboda (střih), Ivan Minář, Roman Hladík

Music

Music Composed by

Ivan Kurz

Selected Music

Johann Strauss ml. (Na krásném modrém Dunaji), Richard Wagner (Soumrak bohů /Götterdämmerung/ (Smuteční pochod)), Ludwig van Beethoven (Óda na radost – symfonie č.9 d moll ), Joseph Haydn (Německý tanec), André Ernest Modeste Grétry

Music Performed by

FISYO

Music Conducted by

Mario Klemens (FISYO)

Songs

Žežuličko, kde jsi byla, Tichá noc /Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht/, Die Fahne hoch /Horst Wessel Lied/, Przybieżali do Betlejema pasterze, Sekyra, motyka, dláto, pilka, Blázinec

Songwriter

lidová píseň (Žežuličko, kde jsi byla), Franz Xaver Gruber (Tichá noc /Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht/), Etienne Nicolas Méhul (Die Fahne hoch /Horst Wessel Lied/), lidová polská píseň (Przybieżali do Betlejema pasterze), Jiří Traxler (Blázinec)

Singer

hlas dívčí (Žežuličko, kde jsi byla), Jolanta Grusznic (Przybieżali do Betlejema pasterze), Miroslava Součková [dab] (Przybieżali do Betlejema pasterze), Sylva Sequensová (Przybieżali do Betlejema pasterze), Joachim Lamża [dab] (Sekyra, motyka, dláto, pilka), Pavel Zedníček (Sekyra, motyka, dláto, pilka)

Production info

Original Title

Kukačka v temném lese

English Title

Cuckoo in the Dark Forest

Parallel Title

Kukułka v ciemnym lesie

Copyright

1984

Production Year

1984

Premiere

01.05.1985

Creative Group

Marcela Pittermannová, Zespól Filmowy Profil

Technical info

Format

Betacam, DVD

Versions

Czech

Awards

Vítěz

Festival: 3. mezinárodní televizní festival Sapporo

1987
Sapporo / Japan

Vítěz

Festival: 25. festival filmů pro děti Gottwaldov

1985
Zlín / Czechoslovakia
Oleg Tabakov

Vítěz

Festival: 23. festival českých a slovenských filmů Praha

1985
Praha / Czechoslovakia