Family Matters

drama

Typology

feature

Lenght

long

Czech title

Jen o rodinných záležitostech

Runtime

114 min

Country

Czechoslovakia

Copyright

1990

Production year

1990

Premiere

01.04.1991

Language version

Czech

Director

Jiří Svoboda

Summary

In 1965, Jaromíra Kolárová penned an autobiographical novel about the political show trials of the 1950s. Director Jiří Svoboda made the decision to adapt the book even before 1989. Due to production delays, the final film was not released until 1990. The end product is a quintessential Czechoslovak feature film from the Velvet Revolution era, in which even prior to the fall of the former regime, state oversight of ideological trends within domestic cinematography was easing. The protagonist of the piece, adapted for the screen by Václav Šašek, is lawyer Steiner-Kamenický, who is accused of conspiring against the state. Jan’s friend, the communist Mrázek, suffers a similar fate. A major trial is prepared in which the pair will join several other innocents and be found guilty, whether they buckle under the pressure of the trumped-up charges or not. The families of the accused also suffer considerable persecution. This exalted story benefits from convincing performances by Jiří Bartoška, Jaromír Hanzlík and Marta Vančurová.

Synopsis

The film is set in the 50s of the 20th century. While celebrating his birthday, the minister signs an order to arrest Jan Steiner-Kamenický, one of his guests. The secret police members led him away in the early morning, after a house search. The scared young wife, Alena, decides to ask Mrázek for help, who is Jan's friend and works as a secretary of the communist party regional committee. He just took part in the screening of new recruiting film. He, as the only person present at the screening, has objections, because the documentary is promising non-existing benefits to workers. Mrázek goes to Prague to the communist party central committee. At the entrance, he is stopped by Alena, who tells him that Jan was arrested and accused of espionage against the state. Before the occupation, Kamenický wanted to leave with his family for London, but he was the only one who succeeded. His first wife, with both children, died in concentration camp. Mrázek rushes home from his lover, Monika. His daughter is celebrating passing her leaving exams and Monika gave him a present for her – a luxurious white handbag. Mrázek's wife is, like her husband a firm communist and she refuses to see the shortcomings of the new political system. But Mrázek also is arrested. Political prisoners are treated in a very cruel way. Long interrogations break them down to confess invented criminal acts. Mrázek still hopes it is an error, even when they tell him that he was expelled from the party due to acts of sabotage. He asks in vain to talk with president Gottwald. According to the investigators, Kamenický returned from London as a spy. A wiretapped conversation with Alena Kamenická evidences Mrázek's guilt – allegedly, she came to warn him. They know all about Mrázek: Monika, who was also arrested, got the handbag from her uncle in the USA. Later they reproach him even the fact that his father, a painter, took in the times of crisis an unemployed friend to be his assistant. As a tradesman, he allegedly exploited him. Mrs Mrázková is fired from work. They have to move to ruins. Although she learns about her husband's lover, she refuses to divorce. Kamenický is broken only when he gets a good-bye letter from his wife, Alena, who wants to commit suicide. But the investigators don't tell him she thought it over and he signs a confession. He tries to kill himself unsuccessfully with a glass from his glasses. The major reproaches his subordinates that the Mrázek case is dragging. He allows him to write a letter home, but only about family matters. Mrázek writes in a secret code a message asking his wife to go to Loukotka, who was saved by Mrázek during the occupation from the Gestapo. The secret policeman Loukotka refuses to help, but soon he is arrested too. Kamenický gets a life-long sentence. Mrázek refuses till the end to plead guilty, but despite of that he is sentenced to thirteen years. On the way to visit Mrázek in the prison Mrázková recalls a sentence: The snow does not fall to kill, but to make it possible to every animal to leave its trace and mesage.

Cast

Jiří Bartoška

JUDr. Jan Steiner-Kamenický

Jaromír Hanzlík

tajemník KV KSČ Jaroslav Mrázek

Marta Vančurová

Lída, Mrázkova žena zvaná Mila

Milan Kňažko

major StB

Karel Roden

kapitán StB

Miroslav Macháček

vězeň-kněz Josef

Zdeněk Mucha

referent StB

Miroslav Donutil

referent StB

Magda Reifová

Alenka, manželka Kamenického

Ilona Svobodová

Monika Nekludová, Mrázkova milenka

Oldřich Vlach

František Loukotka, příslušník StB

Barbora Leichnerová

Dada, dcera Mrázkových

Ivan Jiřík

Petr, Dadin přítel

Daniel Landa

dozorce

Viktor Malát

dozorce

Jan Přeučil

obhájce

František Husák

redaktor Úderníka

Milan Riehs

ministr

Vlastimil Čaněk

vedoucí tajemník KV KSČ

Svatopluk Matyáš

vězeňský lékař

Miloslav Štibich

prodavač Bratrstva

Hana Frejková

Loukotkova manželka

Karel Holas

houslista

Zdeňka Sajfertová

nová nájemnice Steinerova bytu

Eva Asterová

první Steinerova žena na fotografi

Crew and creators

Second Unit Director

Hana Hanušová

Assistant Director

Gabriela Muchová, Hana Turečková

Based on

Jaromíra Kolárová (Jen o rodinných záležitostech – román)

Script Editor

Dušan Kukal

Second Unit Photography

Jiří Pechar

Camera Operator

Jan Carda

Production Designer

Jaromír Švarc

Set Designer

Milan Janoštík, Pavel Čihač, Lubomír Kafka, Jaroslav Chytrý, Jaroslav Lehman, Aleš Liška, Karel Plaňanský, Pavel Svoboda

Film Editor

Josef Valušiak

Sound Designer

Jiří Moudrý

Production Manager

Antonín Suchánek

Unit Production Manager

Ivan Helcl, Patrik Vágner

Unit Production Manager

Božena Novotná, Pavel Píta

Consultant

František Šádek

Cooperation

Miloš Preclík, Jana Šimonová, Roman Květoň, Jana Konopásková, Jan Jirák, Jan Mattlach, Jiří Štětka

Music

Selected Music

Johannes Brahms

Music Performed by

skupina MSP

Songs

Živijó, živijó, Se zpěvem a smíchem, It's A Long Way to Tipperary, Píseň práce, Generál Laudon, Ach, synku, synku

Songwriter

Josef Stanislav (Se zpěvem a smíchem), Harry Williams (It's A Long Way to Tipperary), Jack Judge (It's A Long Way to Tipperary), Josef Scheu (Píseň práce)

Writer of Lyrics

Olga Rambousková (Se zpěvem a smíchem), Harry Williams (It's A Long Way to Tipperary), Jack Judge (It's A Long Way to Tipperary)

Singer

sbor (Živijó, živijó), sbor (Se zpěvem a smíchem), sbor (It's A Long Way to Tipperary), Hana Frejková (Generál Laudon)

Production info

Original Title

Jen o rodinných záležitostech

English Title

Family Matters

Category

film

Typology

feature

Genre

drama

Origin country

Czechoslovakia

Copyright

1990

Production Year

1990

Premiere

01.04.1991

Distribution

Lucernafilm

Creative Group

Miloslav Vydra

Technical info

Lenght

long

Runtime

114 min

Versions

Czech