The Witness Of a Dying Era

drama, historical

Typology

feature

Czech title

Svědek umírajícího času

Runtime

96

Country

Czechoslovakia

Copyright

1990

Production year

1982, 1983, 1990

Premiere

01.02.1991

Language version

Czech

Director

Miloslav Luther

Screenplay

Vladimír Körner

Screenstory

Vladimír Körner

Summary

The historian, politician and philosopher Jan Jesenius (1566–1621) was brought to life in the five-part Slovak TV series Lekár umierajúceho času (Doctor of the Dying Time, 1983). Seven years after its production, this footage was re-edited into a feature film, dubbed over with Czech-language dialogue. Svědek umírajícího času (The Witness Of a Dying Era, 1990) sees screenwriter Vladimír Körner and director Miloslav Luther tell the story of a noted Czech historical figure. Jan Jesenius works in Prague in the court of Emperor Rudolf II. He becomes rector of Charles University, and along with his students helps to make significant strides in the world of medicine. Jesenius battles on behalf of the Czech Crown, and is executed following the Battle of White Mountain. Petr Čepek excels in the lead role in this expansive historical epic. Also offering a strong performance is Rudolf Hrušínský as Rudolf II.

Synopsis

It is the late 16th century and a messenger rides through the land, predicting the biblical time of dying. The Hungarian puszta, 1596. It is after the battle with the Turks and the physician John Jessenius doctors Count Thurn's broken ribs. He meets his friend, the astronomer Kepler. Wittenberg, 1598. Jessenius visits the loan shark Fels to get a loan. He takes a fancy to the usurer's wise daughter Marie and marries her. Prague, the spring of 1600. Emperor Rudolf II approves Jesenius to carry out a public autopsy. Just before the event, the physician and Kepler attend a public spa. Accompanied by the barber-surgeon and bathkeeper Jakoubek, they witness the emperor's friskiness with young women. Jessenius gets a body appropriate for his demonstration from the famous Prague executioner Mydlář. The autopsy becomes an attraction. Representatives of the Bohemian estates plead with the emperor to declare freedom of faith. Prague University offers Jessenius the position of regular professor. A plague epidemic breaks out in Prague and it swiftly spreads throughout the town. Jessenius and his students treat patients in a hospital day and night. They, however, cannot save Marie who does not suffer from plague but is still included among the infected and her house is plundered. Prague, the early spring of 1612. Emperor Rudolf II dies. Vienna, the autumn of 1613. Jessenius is in town, asking for his pay as the court physician. Emperor Matthias rejects his service. On his way back, Jessenius meets a young woman Floro and spends the winter with her, writing down his medical knowledge. Floro, however, leaves him one day. After some time, the nuns give him the daughter Julinka who Floro delivered in an asylum. Jessenius takes the child in. Prague, the spring of 1618. The Bohemian estates' uprising results in the so-called defenestration of district administrators Slavata and Martinicz and scrivener Fabritius at Prague Castle. Jessenius - now the rector of Prague University - is appointed the official emissary of the Bohemian estates and leaves for Hungary. Pressburg, the autumn of 1618. Jessenius is arrested, imprisoned and interrogated. The interrogation is secretly watched by the new emperor, Ferdinand, and the one-time barber and bathkeeper Jakoubek. Jessenius is sent back to Bohemia in exchange for another captive. Vienna, the autumn of 1619. The discord between the Bohemian estates and the emperor continue. The Bohemian aristocrats are, however, running out of money as well as energy. The young Albrecht of Smiritz, the estates' nominee for the Bohemian throne, dies of consumption. Prague, the autumn of 1619. The Bohemian estates hand Friedrich von Falz the key to Prague. People cheer Friedrich, the soldiers swear loyalty to him. Prague, the autumn of 1620. November 8, 1620, is the day of the Battle of the White Mountain. Friedrich von Falz cowardly escapes. All the Bohemian feudal lords are gradually arrested and Prague University is plundered. Even Charles IV's founding act gets stolen. Jessenius waves to his departing daughter Julia through a barred window. Prague, the summer of 1921. The hangman Mydlář executes twenty seven members of the estates' resistance, with Jessenius among them. The Jesuits return to the university. Jakoubek is appointed the imperial administrator. The impoverished Kepler sells horoscopes on the street. The heads of the twelve executed men are displayed at the Prague Old Town's Bridge Tower as a warning. Europe is struck by a conflict which in the future will be called the Thirty Years' War.

Note

The film director Luther made a five-sequel historical series called The Doctor of a Dying Era for Bratislava television in 1983. Seven years later, editing the original 16mm material and copying it into a standard size resulted in the present historical film with a slightly changed title.

Cast

Petr Čepek

lékař Ján Jesenský zvaný Jessenius

Emma Černá

Maria Regina Felsová, Jesseniova žena

Rudolf Hrušínský

císař Rudolf II.

Miloš Nedbal

lichvář a zlatník Fels, Mariin otec

Martin Huba

astronom Johannes Kepler

Milan Kňažko

kat Jan Mydlář

Leoš Suchařípa

zemský sekretář svobodný pán Pavel Michna z Vacínova

Taťána Fischerová

Floro, Jesseniova milenka

Jan Kačer

hrabě Jáchym Ondřej Šlik

Stano Dančiak

baron Kryštof Harant z Polžic a Bezdružic

Mikuláš Huba

rytíř Bohuslav z Michalovic

Ota Sklenčka

svobodný pán Václav Budovec z Budova

Lubomír Kostelka

hrabě Jindřich Matyáš Thurn

Václav Knop

král Ferdinand II. Štýrský

Andrej Hryc

velitel Franz Melchiar

Jan Kanyza

kancléř kníže Zdeněk Vojtěch Popel z Lobkovic

Jiří Bartoška

král Fridrich Falcký

Vít Olmer

místodržící hrabě Vilém Slavata z Chlumu a Košumberka

Karel Augusta

místodržící hrabě Jaroslav Bořita z Martinic

Bohuslav Čáp

písař rytíř Filip Fabricius

Václav Vydra

hrabě Albrecht Jan Smiřický

Zuzana Kronerová

matka představená sestra Beata

Jiří Kostka

rytíř Kašpar Kaplíř ze Sulevic

Dana Hlaváčová

Elfrieda, služka u Felse

Vlastimil Venclík

malíř Jacob Hoefnagel

Barbora Štěpánová

jeptiška sestra Pia

Bronislav Poloczek

lazebník Jakub

Jan Kuželka

student Gregorius

Rostislav Kuba

student Ambrosius

František Husák

velitel Ostrštok

Jan Teplý

prokurátor rytíř Přibík Jeníšek z Újezda

Marta Richterová

měšťanka, majitelka domů

Vladimír Hrubý

farář při popravě

Oldřich Velen

profesor Karlovy univerzity

Rudolf Hrušínský ml.

opilý důstojník s děvčaty

Milan Riehs

svobodný pán Pavel z Říčan

Josef Karlík

astronom Tycho de Brahe

František Řehák

profesor Vavřinec Benedikt z Nudožer

Pavol Mikulík

španělský vyslanec don Baltasar de Zúñiga

Karel Brožek

Mistr David Lippach

Milan Klacek

komoří Filip Lang z Langenfelsu

Yvetta Kornová

Dorotka, služebná u Mydláře

Věra Tichánková

hostinská

Ladislav Křiváček

venkovan Seppl, Jesseniův průvodce

Zdeněk Srstka

okradač mrtvol

Václav Kaňkovský

starý muž na ulici

Zita Furková

Betka, služebná u Jessenia

Václav Kotva

kupčící kněz při popravě

Vladimír Černý

katův pomocník Prokůpek

Kateřina Urbancová

Julinka, Jesseniova dcera

Stanislava Bartošová

kněžna Polyxena z Lobkovic, Lobkovicova žena

Miloš Pietor

rektor Martin Bacháček z Nouměřic

František Kovár

rektor Jan Campanus Vodňanský

Peter Debnár

kníže Matouš Děpolt Popel z Lobkovic

Jiří Prýmek

svobodný pán Jan Daniel Kapr z Kaprštejna

Karel Fořt

vyvolávač při propravě

Miloš Vavruška

velitel Kristián I. Anhaltský

Anna Maľová

Bohunka, Jakubova žena

Bohuslav Ličman

páter Sabinus

Jožka Stoklasa

venkovan Tobias

Petr Drozda

felčar v ležení

Commentary

Dubbing

Gustav Opočenský

hlas lichváře a zlatníka Felse

Ladislav Frej

hlas astronoma Johannese Keplera

Vladimír Ráž

hlas rytíře Bohuslava z Michalovic

Daniela Bartáková

hlas matky představené sestry Beaty

Steva Maršálek

hlas rytíře Kašpara Kaplíře ze Sulevic

Vladimír Salač

hlas faráře při popravě

Radan Rusev

hlas venkovana Seppla

Jiří Zavřel

hlas Matouše Děpolta z Lobkovic

Jiří Havel

hlas Jana Daniela Kapra z Kaprštejna

Ladislav Krečmer

hlas vyvolávače při propravě

Jiří Němeček

hlas posla války

Pavel Rímský

hlas vojáka

Jiří Havel

hlas vojáka

Mirko Musil

hlas starého venkovana

Ladislav Krečmer

hlas důstojníka čtoucího přísahu

Crew and creators

Second Unit Director

Marian Puobiš, Jan Křížek

Assistant Director

Eliška Moulisová

Script Supervisor

Dagmar Zelenková

Production Designer

Jiří Hlupý

Assistent Production Designer

Václav Hlávka

Set Designer

Jan Petrů, Dana Smržová, Ivan Ernyei, Pavel Svoboda

Costume Designer

Jan Kropáček

Film Editor

Jiří Brožek

Assistant Film Editor

Eva Horázná

Sound Designer

Jiří Kříž

Special Effects

Ladislav Vobecký

Production Manager

Karel Kochman, Jiří Ulrich

Unit Production Manager

Petr Prejda, Věra Lukášová, Eliška Sekavová

Unit Production Manager

Jana Příkaská, Aleš Týbl

Consultant

Josef Polišenský, Mária Bokesová-Uherová, Pavel Šebek, Robert Kratochvíl, František Michálek

Cooperation

Helena Friedlová (klapka), Ota Pšenička (vrchní osvětlovač), Jaroslav Trousil (fotograf), Michal Caban, Adolf Werner

Music

Music Composed by

Jiří Bulis

Music Performed by

FISYO, Rožmberská kapela

Music Conducted by

Mario Klemens (FISYO), František Pok (Rožmberská kapela)

Songs

Záře bílá zdáli přišla k nám /Pastorela/

Singer

ženský hlas (Záře bílá zdáli přišla k nám /Pastorela/)

Production info

Original Title

Svědek umírajícího času

English Title

The Witness Of a Dying Era

Copyright

1990

Production Year

1982, 1983, 1990

Premiere

01.02.1991

Distribution

Lucernafilm

Creative Group

Jiří Blažek

Technical info

Versions

Czech