Man versus Ruin

Country

Czechoslovakia

Copyright

1989

Production year

1989

Premiere

1 February 1990

Runtime

89 min

Category

film

Genre

biography

Typology

featuretheatrical distributionlong

Original title

Člověk proti zkáze

Czech title

Člověk proti zkáze

English title

Man versus Ruin

Summary

The personality of early twentieth century writer Karel Čapek had for a very long time not received the reflection it deserved in Czechoslovak film. Just prior to the 1989 “Velvet Revolution”, the difficult task of encapsulating the writer’s life was taken on by director Štěpán Skalský. Although his motion picture, conceived as the fragmentary memories of a sick writer, did not get its premiere until 1990, Člověk proti zkáze (Man versus Ruin, 1989) is a good example of a work that mirrored the relaxation of censorship at the start of the 1990s, demonstrated by the fact that the character of Čapek’s close friend – President Masaryk – appears in the story. The character of Masaryk had otherwise been anxiously avoided by domestic cinematography for whole decades. The focal role of the film is played by Josef Abrhám, who performs the character of Čapek with a humane credibility as well as exceptional professional application.

Synopsis

After the German occupation of spring 1939, the Gestapo arrive at a villa in the Prague neighbourhood of Vinohrady to arrest Karel Čapek. The famous writer and pacifist, however, had died the previous Christmas. His widow Olga recollects their common experiences as well as the tragic moments. Čapek caught a heavy cold during the autumn flood at Strž, the couple's countryside residence. His feverish dreams take him to back to his childhood spent with his siblings Josef and Helena and to the moment when he first saw a kingfisher. The Nazi torch march in Munich looks like a warning to him. After his return, he tells his experiences to his brother Josef and the colleagues Langer, Poláček and Bass in the Lidové noviny editorial office. The Čapek brothers regularly discuss with friends and president Masaryk in the garden of their Prague villa. Čapek writes the anti-war drama The White Disease. The play is immensely successful. Čapek's bygone love Věra is getting married and Čapek decides to marry the actress Olga although his siblings disagree. President Masaryk dies and Čapek ties the mourning crape on the birch tree in his garden. During their sojourn to France, Olga - who also has writing ambitions - comes up with the idea of a theatre play about a mother who lost her sons in war. The audience welcomes the ensuing drama Mother warmly, but Čapek begins to be pursued by adversaries, mainly in the form of vulgar anonymous letters. During the mobilisation, the writer donates his car to the military. It is the time of the Munich Pact. Josef paints anti-dictatorship paintings, Karel refuses to emigrate. The colleagues-editors guard him discreetly and Jan Drda thus saves him from the Fascist attack. At Strž by the water, Čapek waits in vain to see the kingfisher, which is said to bring luck. He faints at the staircase, severely ill. The doctors claim he is suffering from lung inflammation. Čapek talks to the figures from his theatre plays in his fever. Surrounded by his closest relatives, he dies on December 25, 1938 at the age of only forty-eight. A single footmark is left in the snow, and the titles of Čapek's works pass across it.

Film online

Cast

Josef Abrhám

spisovatel Karel Čapek

Hana Maciuchová

herečka Olga Scheinpflugová

František Řehák

malíř Josef Čapek

Věra Galatíková

Helena Čapková, Karlova a Josefova sestra

Libuše Šafránková

Věra Hrůzová

Johana Tesařová

hospodyně Růžena

Monika Švábová

Erika, dcera spisovatele Thomase Manna

Svatopluk Beneš

prezident Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk

Tomáš Juřička

spisovatel Jan Drda

Ota Sklenčka

britský spisovatel Herbert G. Wells

Ladislav Lakomý

spisovatel Vladislav Vančura

Otakar Brousek

spisovatel František Langer

František Němec

profesor Charvát

Jana Štěpánková

herečka Dostalová jako Matka /v dramatu Matka/

Vladimír Brabec

účetní ředitel /v dramatu Bílá nemoc/

Jan Kačer

MUDr. Galén /v dramatu Bílá nemoc/

Hana Kofránková

manželka účetního ředitele /v dramatu Bílá nemoc/

Petr Pelzer

Alquist /v dramatu R. U. R./

Jan Čenský

Kornel /v dramatu Matka/

Martin Stropnický

Petr /v dramatu Matka/

Jana Březinová

herečka /v dramatu Matka/

Martin Sobotka

Toni /v dramatu Matka/

Zdeněk Palusga

Jiří /v dramatu Matka/, Syn /v dramatu Bílá nemoc/

Hanuš Bor

Ondřej /v dramatu Matka/

František Peterka

baron Krüg /v dramatu Bílá nemoc/

Jan Grabmüller

malomocný /v dramatu Bílá nemoc/

Otta Tesař

malomocný /v dramatu Bílá nemoc/

Vojtěch Ron

Maršál /v dramatu Bílá nemoc/

Jiří Zapletal ml.

Sigelius /v dramatu Bílá nemoc/

Martin Kolár

nadporučík Kubíček

Zdeněk Žák

Václav Motl

Rudolf Stärz

spisovatel Karel Poláček

Oldřich Slavík

novinář Eduard Bass

Václav Martinec

režisér Karel Dostal

Milan Klacek

spisovatel Edmond Konrád

Bořík Procházka

malíř František Kupka

Miroslav Částek

tajemník Sepke

Dana Homolová

fanatická Němka

Pavlína Mourková

ctitelka z Loun

David Matásek

student práv Fišer

Jiří Patočka

profesor Pelnář

Alois Švehlík

muž u tramvaje

Jan Kraus

francouzský spisovatel Jules Romains

Jiří Zapletal

ředitel

Václav Babka

človíček

Petr Kuschmitz

pobočník /v dramatu Bílá nemoc/

Lubomír Kostelka

redakční sluha Ondrák

Karel Brožek

novinář Burnay

Petr Svárovský

Dubbing Ladislav Županič
MUDr. Karel Steinbach

Milan Janáček

intendant

Petr Skarke

plukovník

Jaroslav Novotný (3)

Borovička

Josef Vondráček

londýnský novinář Esquire z Times

Lubomír Tlalka

divadelní zřízenec

Oldřich Vlach

velitel civilní obrany Synek

Radek Hoppe

Karel Čapek jako dítě

Josef Čepelka

Josef Čapek jako dítě

Renata Steinerová

Helena Čapková jako dítě

Roman Šmejkal

dělník/záložník

Jaromír Meduna

záložník

Jiří Hromada

záložník

Pavel Bezděk

příslušník SA

Petr Čech

příslušník SA

Michal Hradský

příslušník SA

Jiří Kalenský

příslušník SA

Jaroslav Klenot

příslušník SA

František Stupka

příslušník SA

Jaroslav Špáňa

příslušník SA

Petr Weig

příslušník gestapa

František Michálek

příslušník gestapa

František Švihlík

příslušník gestapa

Jiří Doseděl

sborista

Václav Brtna

útočník

Karel Engel

útočník

J. Nerad

muž

Dubbing

Vlastimil Bedrna

hlas anonyma v telefonu – doktor Volk

Crew and creators

Second Unit Director

Lada Vacková, Magdalena Mikešová

Assistant Director

Petr Hník

Shooting Script

Štěpán Skalský

Director of Photography

Jaromír Šofr

Second Unit Photography

Karel Hejsek

Camera Operator

Jan Smolík

Production Designer

Karel Lier

Assistent Production Designer

Libuše Jahodová

Set Designer

Michal Erazim, Jiří Matějka, Eva Slívová, Pavel Šťastný

Costume Designer

Marta Kaplerová

Film Editor

Jiří Brožek

Assistant Film Editor

Růžena Hejsková, Eva Horázná

Sound Designer

Jiří Lenoch

Assistant Sound Designer

Jiří Bělík

Production Manager

Jaromír Lukáš

Unit Production Manager

Jiří Synek, Lenka Jandová, Dagmar Pitráková

Unit Production Manager

Petr Čermák, Zdeňka Králíková

Consultant

MUDr. Martin Bojar, CSc., František Michálek, MUDr. Vlastimil Kusák, Karel Richter, Zbyšek Svoboda, Jaroslav Róna

Cooperation

Daniela Humlová (klapka), Miloš Schmiedberger (fotograf), Jaromír Pleskot (režie divadelních úryvků), K. Hadravová, M. Žbánková, Veteran car klub Praha

Music

Music Composed by

Zdeněk Pololáník

Music Performed by

FISYO (Music Conducted by Mario Klemens)

Music Supervisor

Jiří Zobač

Songs

Die Fahne hoch /Horst Wessel Lied/

Songwriter Etienne Nicolas Méhul
Writer of Lyrics Horst Wessel
Singer sbor

U našich kasáren /Pojď s námi, holka moje/

Songwriter Karel Vacek
Writer of Lyrics Karel Vacek
Singer sbor

Production info

Original Title

Člověk proti zkáze

Czech Title

Člověk proti zkáze

English Title

Man versus Ruin

Category

film

Typology

featuretheatrical distribution

Genre

biography

Origin country

Czechoslovakia

Copyright

1989

Production Year

1989

Production specifications

start of filming 21 January 1989
end of filming 27 July 1989
the first film copy approved 6 October 1989
projection approval 10 October 1989

Premiere

premiere 1 February 1990 /suitable for youths/

Creative Group

1. tvůrčí skupina, Jiří Blažek (vedoucí 1. tvůrčí skupiny)

Technical info

Duration typology

feature film

Duration in minutes

89 min

Original length in metres

2 591 meters

Distribution carrier

16mm, 35mm

Aspect ratio

1:1,37

Colour

colour

Sound

sound

Sound system/format

mono

Versions

Czech

Dialogue languages

Czech

Subtitles languages

without subtitles

Opening/End credits languages

Czech