Lenin, Lord and Mother

narrative

Typology

feature

Czech title

Vracenky

Runtime

90

Country

Czechoslovakia

Copyright

1990

Production year

1990

Premiere

01.11.1991

Language version

Czech

Director

Jan Schmidt

Screenplay

Milan Ležák

Screenstory

Milan Ležák

Summary

It was a matter of course that any criticism of the political upheavals and show trials of the 1950s was banned from the silver screen during the 1970s and 1980s. However, the period was explored by screenwriter Milan Ležák and director Jan Schmidt soon after the regime was toppled. Their film Vracenky (Lenin, Lord and Mother, 1990) recreated the time's atmosphere partly by using a black and white format. It tells the story of a 10-year-old boy whose divorced mother is a convinced communist. Little Honzík Domnosil faces issues both at school and at home where his mother continuously battles with her lover František and his “reactionary” ideas. However, when the political upheavals begin in earnest the boy’s mother cannot but oppose them and the ardent communist finds herself imprisoned… Director Jan Schmidt gradually builds an ever darker atmosphere which overshadows the life of the young protagonist. His life is disturbed by violently changing times in which private shops suddenly disappear from the streets, Stalin’s huge monument is erected above central Prague on the Letná plain and the idea of a peaceful home life evaporates into a mere dream that cannot be made true by either Lenin or God.

Synopsis

It is 1952 and the ten-year old Honzík Domnosil and his four-year old sister Petruška return to Prague from their aunt's countryside cottage. They do not recognize their mother, named Vlasta, after such a long time. When Honzík almost falls down an elevator shaft, the fragile mother, flustered, faints. Her husband was in a concentration camp during the German occupation but the couple divorced after his return. The family does not profess any religion, just the opposite - the mother is an active member of the Czechoslovak Communist Party. Honzík becomes the target of bullying at his new school and the mother recommends him to be brave, reminding him of the Hussites. Honzík gets into a fight and, by mistake, bites the interfering schoolmaster in the leg which results in his blood poisoning. But Honzík thus earns respect even from the older schoolmates. Faking his mother's signature, he mars up his pupil's record book and does not avoid drubbing anyway. The boys often play a game called "pass check" with a football in the streets of Prague's Old Town. The Stalin monument is built at Letná and Honzík attends a lesson where he is enchanted by the story about Christ's miracles. The mother introduces the children to an "uncle" František - a kind man who nevertheless in no way shares Vlasta's communist enthusiasm. Honzík makes various mischiefs and the mother threatens to send him to a youth custody centre. His sister Petruška falls severely ill. The mother vainly begs her ex-husband, now an influential functionary, to obtain some penicilin, but the little girl fortunately recovers even without it. Honzík fruitlessly begs God for a good school report. He wants to run away from home with two friends. They, however, manage to stay at a Jewish cemetery only till dark and then all return home. Vlasta puts his son a suitcase behind the door but František intercedes for him. He then causes a scandal at a trade union meeting with his sarcastic comments on the bright future. Vlasta refuses to be with a "reactionary", but the couple eventually reconcile. The private doctor's' practices and shops in the neighbourhood gradually disappear. Honzík becomes a member of the Young Pioneers. Political processes are held and quarrels over them result in František's ultimate departure. Because of a reported mother's stay in hospital, Petruška goes to stay with the aunt and Honzík with the family of his classmate Senft. There are lots of toys in the parvenue flat but the boys are not allowed to play with them. The high officerl Senft mercilessly beats his son for a minor thing and the equally unkind Mrs Senftová throws Honzík out. It turns out that Vlasta is not actually in hospital but in prison because she, as a sincere communist, wrote a letter to the president protesting against the political processes. She is fortunately soon released. Stalin dies and president Gottwald dies, too, soon after. Honzík buys his mom one part of Stalin's writings in a secondhand bookshop just because of the nice colour of the hard cover, but the mother is not too pleased by the gift. The Stalin monument is triumphantly unveiled.

Note

The leading children´s character was alternately performed by the twins Jan and Martin Morávek.

Cast

Jan Morávek (dítě)

Honzík Domnosil

Martin Morávek

Honzík Domnosil

Karolina Soukupová

Petruška, Honzíkova sestra

Jana Špaňůrová

Vlasta, matka Petrušky a Honzíka

Oldřich Navrátil

František Křenek, maminčin přítel

Leoš Suchařípa

ředitel školy Škvára

Petr Loužecký

Senft, Honzíkův spolužák

Ondřej Dudek

Josef Douda, Honzíkův spolužák

Aleš Spurný

Jiří Mayer, rváč a Honzíkův spolužák

Jakub Čihák

Stanislav Lederer, Honzíkův spolužák

Jana Švandová

matka Senftová

Michal Pavlata

otec Senft

Lucie Svobodová

učitelka Váňová

Václav Kotva

kostelník

Marek Vašut

četník

Pavel Taussig

svazák

Josef Ježek

svazák

Alena Kreuzmannová

babička, Františkova matka

Hana Frejková

teta Božena

Jaroslav Tomsa

příslušník SNB

Stanislav Zindulka

železničář

Jan Hraběta

automobilista

Vojtěch Belling

kluk

Lukáš Port

kluk

Alžběta Röschlová

dívka

Kristýna Kindlová

dívka

Ondřej Schmidt

kluk

Filip Novotný

kluk

Jáchym Valášek

kluk

Josef Čepelka

kluk

Zdeněk Dušek

vetešník

Josef Vondráček

příslušník SNB

Jana Marková

zástupkyně ředitele

Bohumil Vávra

katecheta

Pavel Vondruška

postřelený muž

Jana Šedová

stará žena s deštníkem

Lena Birková

sousedka

Milan Charvát

rozčílený muž

Martin Faltýn

odborový referent zábavy

Vítězslav Bouchner

Lea Bernhardtová

Miluše Soukupová

Crew and creators

Director

Jan Schmidt

Second Unit Director

Jiří Ostrý

Assistant Director

Alice Ronovská, Ivana Nováková (4)

Screenstory

Milan Ležák

Screenplay

Milan Ležák

Script Editor

Václav Šašek

Second Unit Photography

Jiří Maxa

Camera Operator

František Kučera

Production Designer

Jiří Matolín

Set Designer

Jan Hodný, Ladislav Balous, Karel Kočí

Costume Designer

Marie Franková

Film Editor

Jiří Brožek

Sound Designer

Květoslav Zajíc

Production Manager

Jan Balzer

Unit Production Manager

Zdeněk Fiala, Luděk Blažek, Tomáš Baloun

Unit Production Manager

Zdeňka Králíková, Lenka Seifertová

Cooperation

Zdeněk Lstibůrek, Jaromír Franta, Stanislav Sůva, Eva Horázná, Milada Adámková

Music

Music Composed by

Jiří Šust

Selected Music

Giuseppe Verdi (Nabucco /sbor židovských otroků/), E. F. Burian (Předehra socialismu), Josef Suk (Vesnická serenáda)

Music Performed by

FISYO

Music Conducted by

Štěpán Koníček (FISYO)

Songs

Kupředu, zpátky ni krok, Čobogaj, něbogaj, Maminko, kup mi koníčka, Kolíne, Kolíne, Internacionála, Budujeme /Teď když máme co jsme chtěli/, Všichni jsme mladí

Songwriter

Jan Seidel (Kupředu, zpátky ni krok), František Kmoch (Kolíne, Kolíne), Pierre Degeyter (Internacionála), Václav Dobiáš (Budujeme /Teď když máme co jsme chtěli/), Ludvík Podéšť (Všichni jsme mladí)

Writer of Lyrics

Bedřich Bobek (Kupředu, zpátky ni krok), František Halas (Budujeme /Teď když máme co jsme chtěli/), Vítězslav Nezval (Všichni jsme mladí)

Singer

sbor (Kupředu, zpátky ni krok), sbor (Čobogaj, něbogaj), Oldřich Navrátil (Maminko, kup mi koníčka), sbor (Kolíne, Kolíne), sbor (Budujeme /Teď když máme co jsme chtěli/), sbor (Všichni jsme mladí)

Production info

Original Title

Vracenky

English Title

Lenin, Lord and Mother

Copyright

1990

Production Year

1990

Premiere

01.11.1991

Distribution

Lucernafilm

Technical info

Format

Betacam

Versions

Czech

Awards

Vítěz

Festival: 20. mezinárodní filmový festival Štrasburk

1992
Štrasburk / France

Vítěz

Event: Prémie Českého literárního fondu v oblasti filmu za rok 1992

1992
Praha / Czechoslovakia
Milan Ležák

Vítěz

Event: Prémie Českého literárního fondu v oblasti filmu za rok 1992

1992
Praha / Czechoslovakia
Jan Schmidt

Vítěz

Festival: 20. mezinárodní filmový festival Štrasburk

1992
Štrasburk / France

Vítěz

Festival: 13. festival české a slovenské filmové veselohry Nové Město nad Metují

1991
Nové Město nad Metují / Czechoslovakia
Milan Ležák

Vítěz

Festival: 13. festival české a slovenské filmové veselohry Nové Město nad Metují

1991
Nové Město nad Metují / Czechoslovakia
Jan Schmidt