Parables often enabled Czechoslovak directors to escape the whims of regime censors, and even sneak in critical commentaries about the state of contemporary society. That was very much the case with this film based on a story idea and script by Miroslav Vaic. Though made in 1989, Masseba only found its way to audiences in the subsequent era of “free” distribution. The new climate significantly reduced the impact of this allegorical and conspiratorial tale, which relates the totalitarian practices found within a fictional society. In an underground city, a civilisation survives without any kind of morality or compassion, functioning only through fear and violence. “Tall youngster Honza” (Karel Roden), a member of the retinue of the cruel Major (Václav Postránecký), tries to steer a different path when he falls in love with the lovely Mulatka (Victoria Kidane). Masseba itself is a slope emblazoned with some mysterious letters, which appear to have the power to dissuade our hero from evil and instead turn him towards good.
The cold and alienated world - which maybe just underwent a nuclear disaster and knows no morals or the power of human relationships any more - is ruled by the Leader and his henchmen. Murder and rape are commonplace in the grey "town" of concrete and ruins. A member of the Leader's cortege, a guy called Tall, falls in love with the girl Mulatto. The eloquent exchange of looks between the two proves that the attraction is mutual. The inhabitants of the dusty concrete jungle attempt to have some life, singing and worshipping the sculpture of their pig deity. Mulatto dusts books in the library while the Librarian chiselles signs in stone. Even these simple activities are, however, crudely intervened in by the Leader and his gang. The Leader rapes Mulatto and another man from his entourage stabs the Librarian dead. They also want to liquidate Tall and throw him out of a window, but the Leader eventually orders him to be pulled back up. The only bright point in the mass of grey blocks and grey attires in this world is the Angel Girl who runs through the town from time to time. Tall is mesmerized by a column with a mysterious inscription - it is the "masseba" which lures him from evil to good. Tall succeeds in trapping the Leader in a net and puts him in a cage. Although wounded, he also wins a fight with the Man with the Iron Fans. Running away with Mulatto through endless corridors, the couple is helped by the Angel Girl who shows them the way out. Tall and Mulatto walk out into a bright sunny day and the only thing they can see in the endless space is a stone with signs chiselled into it.
Masseba was the first Czech film provided with the Dolby Stereo system.
Voice by Eliška Sirová
Muž s vějíři
Muž s tyčí
Žena pro všechny
Holčička – andílek
Vladimír Kvěch, Miloslav Dvořák
Rudolf Kamenický (výroba sochy)
Pohled z okna
start of filming 26 June 1988
end of filming 13 October 1988
the first film copy approved 27 January 1989
projection approval 22 March 1989
premiere 1 April 1990 /unsuitable for youths/
2 708 meters