Were We Really Like This?

psychological

Typology

feature

Lenght

long

Czech title

Byli jsme to my?

Runtime

85 min

Country

Czechoslovakia

Copyright

1990

Production year

1990

Premiere

01.03.1991

Language version

Czech

Director

Antonín Máša

Summary

After years of forced silence, director Antonín Máša returned to feature films with two projects – Skřivánčí ticho (The Silence of the Larks, 1989) and Byli jsme to my?(Were We Really Like This?, 1990). He made the first of these motion pictures just prior to the 1989 Velvet Revolution, but the latter film enjoys the benefit of a post-1989 distance as it reflects upon the decay evident in society during the era of “normalisation”. The heroes of both films are artists, and their characters are to a large extent autobiographical. Psychological drama Byli jsme to my? is based on Máša’s theatrical play, staged in 1981 by acclaimed filmmaker Evald Schorm. The protagonist of its introspective narrative is an ill and exhausted theatre director (the sublime Leoš Suchařípa). He confronts the professional and moral lethargy of his acting ensemble. This final film by Máša draws in viewers thanks to the urgency of his testimony and the excellent casting.

Synopsis

The Prague theatre director, Jan Jonáš, whose uncompromising approach to art work often results in conflicts with the Communist and state authorities, successfully directs Turgenev in the town of Liberec. As usual, the director of the theatre has no understanding for Jonáš's avant-garde conception, and he is fired. When he returns to Prague, he suffers from a heart attack on the street and tumbles. People pass by indifferently, until he is taken care of by an unknown young man who calls the emergency services. Jonᚠis again in Prague after the hospital and spa treatment. He does not find his daughter Madla at home. His friend Alice tells him that the daughter lives with Alice's husband, the actor Josef Válek. Alice, whom Jonᚠonce loved, moves in with him. Jonᚠaccepts the offer to direct Othello in the Magical Theatre. But already the first rehearsal ends up tragically. The actors do not invest all their erudition in their performance; they are more interested in their TV and radio gigs. Jonáš's work is moreover rudely interfered with by the Party official Jarmilka. Jonᚠis only admired by the unknown young man from the street who works as a sceneshifter in the theatre where everybody considers him a foolish improver. But it is he who loves theatre and in whom Jonᚠspots great talents. Jonᚠdoes not let anything discourage him in his work. He meets the actors one by one, talks to them about the sense of life and theatre, and even does various errands for them. During the following rehearsals Jonᚠnotices that Madla, who plays the part of Desdemona, is becoming close with the Improver. He thus sends Alice to Válek to reconcile. It is the day of the dress rehearsal. Jonᚠmanages to whip up the actors to the maximum performance. But he is running out of vigour and wants the Improver to substitute for him. He crumples down onto the floor with the words "Long live theatre!" Everybody applauds him. - At the November 1989 manifestation, people chant "Long live the actors!"

Note

The theatre play The Night Rehearsal by Antonín Máša, which served as a very free model to this movie, was directed by Evald Schorm. It was premiered in the Magic Lantern theatre on February 4 and 5, 1981 and was very successful. The film is dedicated to the memory of Evald Schorm and Pavel Juráček.

Cast

Leoš Suchařípa

divadelní režisér Jan Jonáš

Petr Čepek

herec Jiří Koval

Taťána Fischerová

Alice, Jonášova přítelkyně

Tereza Brodská

herečka Madla, Jonášova dcera

Ladislav Frej

herec Josef Válek, Alicin manžel

Jiřina Bohdalová

herečka a alkoholička Vendla

Jiří Zahajský

scénograf Karel

Ondřej Vetchý

kulisák Petr zvaný Kandrdas

Vítězslav Jandák

herec Karel Jaryš

Gabriela Wilhelmová

inspicientka Jarmilka, stranická funkcionářka

Václav Babka

inspicient Kábl

Miloslav Štibich

herec Kobr

Jiří Samek

ředitel oblastního divadla

Ivan Podobský

ředitel Magického divadla

Vladimír Kratina

Kandrdasův kamarád

Jan Teplý

jevištní mistr

Zdeňka Sajfertová

nápovědka

Jan Foll

novinář, Jonášův přítel

Hana Čížková

asistentka produkce

Jitka Asterová

Lída, Kovalova manželka

Dáša Neblechová

žena v tramvaji

Eva Očenášová

žena v tramvaji

Luba Skořepová

žena v tramvaji

Hana Brejchová

žena v tramvaji

Evžen Illín (herec)

muž v tramvaji

Miroslav Krejča

muž v tramvaji

Jan Řeřicha

muž v tramvaji

Petr Svárovský

muž v tramvaji

Václav Kotva

Váňuša

Jana Drbohlavová

Pěrekatovová

Bohuslav Ličman

Pěrekatov

Lenka Skopalová

divadelní herečka

Lena Birková

kostymérka

Lorna Vančurová

novinářka

Jaromír Dulava

filmový režisér

Jaromír Vaverka

rekvizitář

Jan Hraběta

muž v kupé

Jan Toušek

muž v kupé

Ema Skálová

vrátná

Kristian Hynek

kameraman

Oldřich Velen

vrátný ve filmovém studiu

Zdenek Sirový

režisér dabingu

Jiří Patočka

zaměstnanec divadla

Crew and creators

Second Unit Director

Josef Loučím

Assistant Director

Jarmila Kovtanová, Stanislav Rovný

Screenplay

Antonín Máša

Script Editor

Václav Šašek

Second Unit Photography

Jiří Maxa, Jiří Pechar

Camera Operator

Antonín Mařík

Production Designer

Jiří Hlupý

Set Designer

Michal Kraus, Vladimír Kvěch, Miloslav Dvořák

Costume Designer

Jan Kropáček

Sound Designer

Jiří Kříž

Production Manager

Karel Kochman

Unit Production Manager

Eliška Sekavová, Jarmila Tomišková

Unit Production Manager

Jana Jeřábková, Zdeno Kubina

Cooperation

Martin Malý, Barbora Kropáčková, Růžena Hejsková, Olga Rosenfelderová

Music

Music Composed by

Svatopluk Havelka

Selected Music

Bedřich Smetana (Hubička), Julius Fučík (Marinarella)

Music Performed by

FISYO

Music Conducted by

Mario Klemens (FISYO)

Songs

Svítá, Ta slepička kropenatá

Songwriter

Jaroslav Ježek (Svítá)

Writer of Lyrics

Jiří Voskovec (Svítá), Jan Werich (Svítá)

Singer

sbor (Svítá), sbor (Ta slepička kropenatá)

Production info

Original Title

Byli jsme to my?

English Title

Were We Really Like This?

Category

film

Typology

feature

Genre

psychological

Origin country

Czechoslovakia

Copyright

1990

Production Year

1990

Premiere

01.03.1991

Distribution

Lucernafilm

Creative Group

Miloslav Vydra

Technical info

Lenght

long

Runtime

85 min

Versions

Czech

Awards

Vítěz

Festival: 27. mezinárodní filmový festival Karlovy Vary

1990
Karlovy Vary / Czechoslovakia