Moravian Hellas - trailer
Year of production 1963
Written by Karel Vachek
Screenplay Karel Vachek
Director Karel Vachek
Dir. of photography Jozef Ort-Šnep
Editing Ludvík Pavlíček
Sound Benjamin Astrug, Lubomír Zajíc
Music Štěpán Koníček (Archive)
Prod. manager Emil Havlin
Production Krátký Film – Studio of Scientific and Educational Films
Josef Lebánek, Jan Saudek, Karel Saudek, Alena Karpilová and others
At the beginning of the 1960's the „problematic“ budding student of film direction at FAMU (Prague Film Academy) was temporarily expelled from the school as a result of disagreements with certain tutors, and spent a year as a manual worker in Gottwaldov (today's Zlín). At that time he began to prepare a graduation piece of work, an essayistic and experimental film from the nearby town of Strážnice. The Strážnice folklore festival, strongly
supported by the then cultural Party apparatus, lost any relationship to an authentic folklore tradition many years back. They are shown as a fascinating, bizarre theatre with surrealist elements which Vachek with his untraditional approaches amplifies (commentated captions, declamation of reporters, acted comical études, linking-up of reportage and fiction). In front of our eyes we see a riveting audio-visual collage where odd figures of folk artists parade up-and-down, hard-luck cases, schmaltz-artists and wide boys, hop-alongs and old-time locals confronted by a weird duo of ‚uni-ovular‘ investigative reporters, Karel and Jan Saudek (first is today a well-known comic-draftsman, second a well-known photographer, then an unknown couple of young lads) with one gorgeous bored extra, a novice actress Alena Karpilová.
The film was created in 1963, the year film theoretician Antonín Navrátil calls ‚the turnabout year‘ in Czech documentary film-making. It was this time that it began to worm itself out of the ideological torpor and rigidity of the previous decade. Although by this time there were official voices calling for truthfulness and personal moral commitment from the artists, Vachek hit a brick wall with no holds barred.. Following stormy discussions at the festival of documentary films in Karlovy Vary Carlsbad ) the film did not appear in cinemas for a long time. According to some testimonies the film was banned by President Novotný himself… The title of the film paraphrases ironically a supposed exclamation by the French sculptor August Rodin who, on his visit to the Slovácko region of Moravia, compared the local graceful women to the beauties of ancient Greece.
Karel Vachek on the film:
I did it in a way so I could shoot something where I could giggle and and be blissful saying to myself: yes, that's a shot that I want. Then I just took care that I had the others like that ... It seemed to me there that a shot, a miracle of sorts and I didn't rack my brain with some philosophical ventilations that I can develop today…Mind you, it took me twenty years before I managed with my wife to crack what I was actually aiming at in 'Moravian Hellas' and in 'Elective Affinities'. ... I felt for the first time that whatever framework I created, however magically, won't be as beautiful as when it flows directly from the reality, and now it causes you all those „horrors“.
1964 - Honorable Mention at the short film festival in Karlovy Vary