Nine Levels of Hell


Czechoslovakia, Cambodia



Production year



1 July 1988


127 min


Milan Muchna




adventure, drama, political


featuretheatrical distributionlong

Original title

Devět kruhů pekla

Czech title

Devět kruhů pekla

English title

Nine Levels of Hell

Parallel title

Norouk Pramboun Chaon


This Czech-Cambodian romantic drama from 1987 belongs among those eighties co-productions that stemmed from cultural activities agreed with “friendly regimes” of the time. Its main character is Czech doctor Tomáš, who is searching for his lost wife Khema in 1979 Cambodia. After arriving in the exotic but troubled country in 1969, he had fallen in love with a beautiful dancer despite the will of her parents. However, the happy couple are separated amid a series of coup d'états, leaving Tomáš facing the wreckage of his previous life. The genocide waged against the Cambodian population by the Khmer Rouge government has destroyed everything he has come to know... This unexpectedly dramatic picture from director Milan Muchna (his previous filmography revelled in humour (Hop – a je tu lidoop – Monkey’s Playtime, 1978; Únos Moravanky – The Moravanka Band’s Been Kidnapped, 1983; Divoké pivo – Wild Beer, 1995...)). Milan Kňažko plays the main role, while in the retrospective scenes he is ably supported by Cambodian star Oum Sovanny.


The Czech physician Tomáš searches for his beautiful young wife Khema in the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh. He was separated from her by the dramatic events, which shattered the country four years ago. Tomáš is shocked at the sight of the ruin of the once flourishing town. - He arrived at the local hospital in 1969 to join other Czech doctors. After a while, he befriends a young dancer and falls in love with her. Khema's parents disagree with the marriage with a man originating from a different culture. Khema's brother, who studied in Paris and turned into a leftist radical there, even threatens to Tomáš. But the wedding eventually occurs and the two young people are happy together. The political conditions in Cambodia, however, change and the government is overthrown. The country faces yet another upheaval in 1975 and gets terrorized by the young Pol Pot army's soldiers. Khema is pregnant and Tomáš is worried about her. He goes to the hospital to help evacuate the patients. Back home, he does not find his wife, the house has been robbed and the parents murdered. Tomáš the foreigner is deported from the country. Now, he returns to the country where only a minority of people survived the torture and drudgery. Tomáš follows the tracks of his wife who gave birth to a daughter during the deportation. She even met her dying brother who was eventually crushed by the bloody revolution. Tomáš's hopes are not fulfilled completely because Khema died. He, however, succeeds in finding his daughter and takes her to his home country.


The expert consultant Ruy Neakong Ruy is one of only fourteen survivors from the twenty thousand prisoners of the Tuol Slen camp which operated in Phnom Penh between 1975 and 1979. The Museum of Genocide was established there on the 7th of January 1980. The expert consultant Chheng Phon – the director of the Cambodian National Conservatoire and later the Cambodian minister of culture – earned credit for educating the young representatives in the national cultural traditions (theatre, music) because only a few students and ten teachers survived.


Milan Kňažko

Voice by Petr Čepek
lékař Tomáš David, Khemin manžel

Heng Chanrith

Voice by Václav Kopta
MUDr. Rath Thong

Ban Thavy

Voice by Eliška Sirová
tanečnice Thyda, později učitelka

Nov Channary

Voice by Pavel Kříž
Chivan, Khemin bratr

Khuon Chhum

Pon, Khemin druhý manžel

Jiří Samek

Voice by Bedřich Šetena
primář docent Samek

Jiří Schmitzer

MUDr. Dalibor Hrádek

Jan Schmid

anesteziolog MUDr. Kubeš

Milan Lasica

gynekolog MUDr. Kalivoda

Bronislav Poloczek

montér Emil

Drahoslava Boháčová


Saom Dorin

Voice by Jiří Zahajský
kapitán Kim

Chan Thy

Voice by Jana Vychodilová
Khemina matka

Oum Phân

Voice by Mirko Musil
Khemin otec

Květa Fialová

Klára, Tomášova matka

Jan Pohan

Tomášův otec

Duong Ratsovanna

Voice by Miriam Chytilová
Rany, Khemina sestra

Chuom Vannsin


Ouch Samol

velitel vesnice

Mê Moen


Lor Sangharith


Ban Yan

Voice by Dana Syslová

Thach Mary

Voice by Lucie Nosková

Bun Sophary

Klárka, dcera Khemy

Chan Sotheary


posluchači konzervatoře Phnompenh

Chy Sochip


Crew and creators


Milan Muchna

Second Unit Director

Milan Klacek, Ieu Pannasidh

Assistant Director

Chy Sochip, Chuom Vannsin, Stanislav Rovný


Hana Suchá


Milan Muchna


Milan Muchna

Shooting Script

Milan Muchna

Director of Photography

Petr Hojda

Second Unit Photography

Rudolf Holan

Camera Operator

Milan Lekič, Sêm Sary, Tralong Borin

Production Designer

Miloš Červinka, Kong Kanthara

Assistent Production Designer

Aleš Voleman

Set Designer

Bohumil Kadlec, Jan Klíma, Son Sovanvichêt, Uon Nék, Jiří Matějka, Karel Karas, Ivo Černý

Costume Designer

Jan Kropáček

Film Editor

Dalibor Lipský

Sound Designer

Adolf Böhm

Production Manager

Jan Syrový, Ly Dany

Unit Production Manager

Jana Hauserová, Helena Landovská

Unit Production Manager

Václav Šeda, Nang Phanajia


Chheng Phon, Karel Čepička, Pavel Auersperg, Jiří Skřivan, Karel Citterbart, MUDr. Dalibor Hrádek, MUDr. Hanuš Reisinger, Marcela Sainerová, Mao Ayouth, Non Chan, Ruy Neakong


Ivana Vlčková (klapka), Petr Hojda (fotograf), Jan Kuděla (fotograf), Tep Somaly, Chloe Younly, Proum Sarmouny, Keo Narét, Long Sávat, Seng Ratha, Khek Chen, Kheiu Sary, Khan Dy, Kvan Thän, Ke Vichet, Tit Thearith, Bun Narei


Selected Music

Ludwig van Beethoven (Pro Elišku /Für Elise/ – klavírní skladba a moll), Johann Sebastian Bach (Toccata a fuga d moll)


Dobrú noc, má milá, dobrú noc

Singer Oum Sovanny [dab]Taťjana Medvecká

Production info

Original Title

Devět kruhů pekla

Czech Title

Devět kruhů pekla

English Title

Nine Levels of Hell

Parallel Title

Norouk Pramboun Chaon




featuretheatrical distribution


adventure, drama, political

Origin country

Czechoslovakia, Cambodia



Production Year


Production specifications

literary Screenplay approved 12 February 1986
start of filming 1 May 1986
technical Screenplay approved 9 July 1986
end of filming 4 September 1987
projection approval 28 September 1987


gala premiere 14 April 1988 (kino Sevastopol, Praha)
premiere 1 July 1988 /unsuitable for youths/

Creative Group

2. dramaturgicko-výrobní skupina, Josef Císař (vedoucí 2. dramaturgicko-výrobní skupiny)

Technical info

Duration typology

feature film

Duration in minutes

127 min

Original length in metres

3 621 meters

Distribution carrier


Aspect ratio






Sound system/format




Dialogue languages

Czech, Khmer

Subtitles languages


Opening/End credits languages