The Magician

drama, biography

Typology

feature

Czech title

Mág.

Runtime

87

Country

Czechoslovakia

Copyright

1987

Production year

1987

Premiere

01.03.1988

Language version

Czech

Director

František Vláčil

Screenplay

Václav Nývlt

Screenstory

Václav Nývlt

Summary

Director František Vláčil dedicated his final film to a major figure in Czech literary history – the novelist and poet Karel Hynek Mácha (1810–1836). The screenplay for the 63-year-old maestro’s Mág. (The Magician) was written by Václav Nývlt. Nývlt had also contributed as screenwriter to Vláčil’s drama Dým bramborové natě (Fires on Potato Fields) (1976) and as dramaturge on the director’s adaptation of Josef Čapek’s novel Stín kapradiny (The Shadow of a Fern) (1984). The Czech title of The Magician combines period orthography of Mácha’s most famous work, Máj (May), and the romantic concept of the poet as sorcerer. Mácha is a controversial, none too appealing figure in the film: a wild youth living according to his ideals and causing pain to those close to him – in particular his naive fiancée Lori Šomková – with his indifference, pride and arrogance. At the same time, he lives the consuming, self-destructive life of a Romantic genius for whom co-existence with reality does not come easily. Rather than create a classic biopic Vláčil delivered a poetic stream of images aimed at combining the facts with an artistic conception of Mácha’s view of the world and an evocation of his poems. The director hired the seasoned Jiří Macák as cinematographer. The lead actor – the versatile, relatively unknown Jiří Schwarz, who succeeded in identifying internally with the conception of Mácha – takes the lion’s share of the credit for film’s effectiveness. Vláčil entrusted practically all the other roles, including several tiny ones, to well-known actors. For instance, Petr Čepek, with whom the director worked on Údolí včel (The Valley of the Bees) (1967) and Adelheid (1969), makes a brief cameo as the Litoměřice hangman Ledvina. The part of Lori remains one of Veronika Žilková’s most important dramatic roles. Providing a contrast to Mácha’s boisterous inconsistency is Rudolf Hrušínský, whose perfect diction in a recital of May conjures the concept of immutable cultural values. Vláčil was dissatisfied with the final form of the film and a sense of artistic failure fuelled his decision to quit directing.

Synopsis

The poet Karel Hynek Mácha travels on foot to the town of Litoměřice where he is to begin work with the local notary. In Mácha's room, the dressmaker's apprentice Kaška is finishing a wedding dress for Lori Šomková. Also present are her friends who have come over to see Mácha's newborn son. The room is entered by Michal reporting that his brother Karel Hynek is dead. – A year before, the poet got acquainted with Lori during a theatre rehearsal. He does not conceal his rivalry and animosity towards the playwright Tyl and even insults the amateur actor Kaška. But Kaška enjoys unexpected success after the performance and Mácha apologizes to him. Karel Hynek makes love to Lori at Vyšehrad, but expresses an awkward jealousy to her right after. When leaving Vyšehrad, a fiddler hands him a letter from a lady named Márinka. The young man visits her. Márinka, an ill lady, plays the spinet, knows all Mácha's poems and begs him to come over again. The poet, however, leaves for the Giant Mountains the next day to contemplate, write poems and draw. Tietze, owner of the local summer wine cellar by a lake under the mountain Bezděz, tells Hynek an interesting story about some Hynek who murdered his father for seducing his love and was sentenced to breaking on the wheel. The story captivates Mácha. He returns to Prague to meet Márinka, but the girl had died in the meantime. Her face would eternally haunt him. Mácha is summoned to the police headquarters for questioning. Lori tells Mácha about her pregnancy. Her mother dies and Mácha forces his sweetheart to swear to be faithful to him in front of the mother's coffin. Later, he publishes the poem May at his own expense, but the work is torn down by a contemporary critic. Mácha realizes that he must provide for his wife and child, and begins with the Litoměřice notary. He likes to spend his leisure time at Radobýl and spots a fire from there one day. He helps extinguish it. His exhausted body, however, falls prey to illness. At the moment of dying, Mácha sees the surface of a lake and black forests, veiled in deep darkness.

Film online

Cast

Jiří Schwarz

básník Karel Hynek Mácha

Veronika Žilková

Lori Šomková, Máchova snoubenka

Věra Tichánková

Šomková, Lorina matka

Blažena Holišová

Máchova matka

Jan Hrušínský

Michal, Máchův bratr

Zdeněk Řehoř

Márinčin otec, starý šumař

Václav Knop

dramatik Josef Kajetán Tyl

Jana Švandová

Leni Forchheimová

Tomáš Juřička

krejčí a ochotník Jan Kaška

Alexej Okuněv

Karel Sabina

Jan Kraus

Trojan, Máchův přítel

Jaroslav Someš

Eduard Hindl, Máchův přítel ze studií

Lubor Tokoš

vinárník Tietze

Josef Kemr

konzistorní rada Jan Nepomuk Zimmermann

Jana Hlaváčková

žena v černém

Josef Karlík

justiciár Duras, Trojanův strýc

Milena Dvorská

Durasova žena

Ladislav Křiváček

švec Lorenz

Miriam Kantorková

Lorenzova žena, Máchova bytná v Litoměřicích

Petr Čepek

mistr popravčí a městský pohodný Ledvina

Karel Augusta

ochotník Rubeš

Jan Přeučil

farář u sv. Štěpána

Oto Ševčík

litoměřický farář

Zdeňka Sajfertová

sklepnice Róza

Jana Marková

pradlena

Kateřina Lojdová (2)

Albertina, dcera Durasových

Mirko Musil

špicl

Zdeněk Honzík

chasník s křídlovkou

Rudolf Hrušínský ml.

komandant stráže

Václav Kotva

písař Amanuensis

Bohuslav Ličman

vinař v kanceláři

Jožka Stoklasa

vozka na silnici

Michal Krb

syn pradleny

Zdeněk Srstka

tajný rada

Karel Smrž

stařík Vašek Kumr, bývalý lupič a bandita

Karel Sekera

šífař

Soňa Novotná

služebná

David Vávra

Píchl

Zdeněk Krumpl

pacholek

Ladislav Lahoda

nosič vody

Milan Duchek

mladý klerik

Dubbing

Jiří Klem

hlas Hindla

Vladimír Krška

hlas tajného rady

Josef Patočka

hlas tiskaře

Rudolf Hrušínský

recitace veršů

Marta Vančurová

recitace veršů

sbor vedený Pavlem Kühnem

recitace veršů

Crew and creators

Second Unit Director

Aleš Dospiva

Assistant Director

Milan Cieslar, Irena Krestová

Screenstory

Václav Nývlt

Screenplay

Václav Nývlt

Shooting Script

František Vláčil

Script Editor

Václav Šašek

Second Unit Photography

Jan Hanzal

Camera Operator

Michal Vlček

Production Designer

Jindřich Goetz

Art Director

František Flašar, Věra Flašarová

Set Designer

Milan Bábik, Jiří Matějka, Eva Slívová

Costume Designer

Libuše Pražáková

Film Editor

Miroslav Hájek

Sound Designer

František Fabián

Production Manager

Miroslav Dousek

Unit Production Manager

Irena Koucká, Rudolf Mos

Unit Production Manager

Jan Boček

Consultant

doc. PhDr. Pavel Vašák, DrSc.

Cooperation

Jana Jiříčková, Magda Hájková, Petr Pištěk, Miroslav Jirsa

Music

Music Composed by

Jiří F. Svoboda

Music Performed by

FISYO, Sbor Pavla Kühna

Music Conducted by

Mario Klemens (FISYO), Štěpán Koníček (Sbor Pavla Kühna)

Songs

Zelení hájové, V jedné ruce cervulát

Songwriter

lidová píseň (Zelení hájové)

Singer

sbor (V jedné ruce cervulát)

Production info

Original Title

Mág.

English Title

The Magician

Copyright

1987

Production Year

1987

Premiere

01.03.1988

Creative Group

Miloslav Vydra

Technical info

Versions

Czech