By Alena Skodova
The journey from the original idea to the completion of the latest Czech film, called "Dark Blue World", took five years, but it was worth it. The premiere in Prague last month became the 'event of the year' and was accompanied by a great of media hype and attention. So far, the film has been filling cinemas all over the country. The Czechs are flocking to see this story about 'new-age knights', which is the film's promotion slogan. The knights in the film, made by the Oscar-winning father-and-son team Zdenek and Jan Sverak, are Czech pilots who served in the British Royal Air Force during World War II. The film, which has been shot to pay tribute to these brave Czech pilots, who ended up in communist prisons and labor camps after the war, was exceptionally expensive - it cost 230 million Czech crowns, the most ever in the history of Czech cinematography. I had a chance to speak with the director of Dark Blue World, Jan Sverak, after he had finished signing photographs at an exhibition documenting the process of producing the film. I asked him first why had he decided to make a film about Czech RAF pilots?The film, which takes place mostly in Britain, had a British producer, Eric Abraham. He told Czech journalists that the question of money was not that important to him. Although Dark Blue World was about 8 times the cost of an average Czech film, its budget amounted to only 4 percent of that spent on producing the latest Hollywood blockbuster, Pearl Harbour. The Dark Blue World featured many British actors as well. How was Jan Sverak look for them and select them? The story - which takes place mostly in England - tells about a close friendship between an experienced pilot and his young colleague, which is suddenly divided by the fact that the two fall in love with the same woman. Combined with combat flights and scenes showing the life of the pilots at their base, quite a powerful story has been created, but there is yet another dimension to the film: horrifying shots from Mirov prison, one of the harshest ones in Czechoslovakia after the communist takeover in 1948, where most of the Czech RAF pilots ended up, and many of them never returned. By now, well over 300,000 Czech viewers have seen Dark Blue World. So will the film travel to some international film festivals in the near future? Jan Sverak again:
The opening of the Jabkenice gamekeeper's lodge in Central Bohemia next spring will cost six to seven million Czech crowns, but the Museum of Czech music can only provide two thirds of this sum. The lodge in Jabkenice is the place where the famous 19th century Czech composer Bedrich Smetana spent the last ten years of his life in his daughter's household. Even after he had lost his hearing, Smetana continued to compose music in Jabkenice, and a number of his most famous works came to life here, between 1876 and 1884, including the cycle of symphonic poems My Country. Although the museum has tried to get sponsors, the director of the National Museum Milan Stloukal told journalists that it has failed to find any. At the same time, he said, his museum can only establish a representative exposition, and not even the Ministry of Culture was able to help. If the money is available, though, not only the lodge itself, but the surrounding garden will be returned to its original condition. The lodge closed to the public back in 1987, and by the end of 1995 the National Museum in Prague had spent 3 and a half million crowns just to help the building be returned to a more or less acceptable condition. Plans are that after the renovation, the gamekeeper's lodge in Jabkenice will not only be a museum, but will also serve as a music hall for concerts and as a 'multimedia stand', where visitors can get more information about the house and above all about the great Czech composer himself.
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