Ladislav Klíma’s peculiar romanetto Utrpení knížete Sternenhocha (Prince Sternenhoch’s Misery, 1928) served as inspiration for this feature film, directed by Jan Němec in 1990, following his return to Czechoslovakia from exile. The writer-director of such 1960s New Wave classics Démanty noci (Diamonds of the Night, 1964) and O slavnosti a hostech (The Party and the Guests, 1966), creates a poignant post-modern tale about a stormy romantic affair between a decadent prince (played by musician Vilém Čok) and the daughter of a demoted army officer (Ivana Chýlková). Němec sets this colourful tale of irresistible attraction between two contradictory characters in an unspecified near future. Details about the royal family in question are also deliberately vague. Graphic designer Michael Rittstein incorporates elements of contemporary Czechoslovakia into his futuristic aesthetic. Garnering a mixed reception from audiences, the film nonetheless boasts an attractive cast. Pavel Landovský plays the heroine’s father – the actor also having recently returned from exile.
A prince is dying in his residence, in an iron tower rising above Prague. He dictates his last words to the state secretary. – The infantile prince gets ready for a ball where he should choose his bride. He, however, turns down all the present princesses and rather picks a waitress watching the dance. The next day, he sets off to ask for her hand. The girl's boorish father does not conceal his disdain both for his daughter and the prince but he eventually agrees with the wedding. After the wedding night, the girl – now princess – kicks the prince away, claiming that she is not interested in him at all. She delivers a son after some time but the court physician takes the successor to the throne away. A midwife is executed for the child's disappearance. The prince begs his father-in-law to make his daughter be obedient. The father tries to strangle her and she fights back with a dagger. The father later dies as a result of his wounds. The princess escapes from the château and leads protesters against the prince. She drinks, burns people, masturbates, finds a lover who tortures her. The two lovers decide to run away to the Cordillera Mountains. The princess is supposed to kiss her husband for the last time before the escape. But she is incapable of that and the prince kills her with a hammer. Her lover is thrown out of the window and the prince shoots him dead. The ruler cannot forget about his wife whose bloody head keeps appearing to him even during his wild orgies. He becomes insane and is overthrown. All deranged, he sets off to a dungeon where he left the dying princess two years ago. He throws himself on her body and tries to make love to her. His intercourse attempts with the princess's corpse are watched by the entire court and the guards soon force him apart from the putrid remains of her body. After the prince's death, the physician brings back the prince's heir to the deposition of the coffins with the prince's and princess's bodies. The future ruler has two heads: one after his mother, the other after his father.
Ladislav Klíma (Utrpení knížete Sternenhocha – román)
Michael Rittstein, Jiří Žůček
Petr Moravec, Zuzana Kovaříková, Hana Jarošová
Stanislav Šafr, Pavel Píta, Šárka Pechanová
V žáru královské lásky
In the Flames of Passion of Royal Love
35mm , Betacam