No results.


Karel Vachek is one of the the most original Czech director of the last fifty years. He is often called “enfant terrible of the Czech New Wave” . After 1968 silenced by the Communist regime, emigrated with his family to the USA via France. His films are described as film novels because their divergent structure and potent philosophical base remind one of modern novels. Karel Vachek is professor and head of Documentary Department at FAMU.

Bohemia docta - trailer

Bohemia Docta or The Labyrinth of the World and the Lust-house of the Heart (A Divine Comedy)

Year of production 2000
Written by Karel Vachek
Screenplay Karel Vachek
Director Karel Vachek
Dir. of photography Karel Slach
Editing Renáta Pařezová
Sound Libor Sedláček
Music various compositions and songs
Prod. manager Jan Šibrava
Production Krátký film Praha, a.s., Česká televize
Premiere 16.12.2000


activist John Bok, philosopher Egon Bondy, musician Vratislav Brabenec, inventor of Semtex Stanislav Brebera, poet Eugen Brikcius, písnickár / balladeer Jim Cert, ecologist Ivan Dejmal, poet Ivan Diviš, representative to Parliament Pavel Dosál, writer Jaroslav Foglar, Minister of Education Jirí Gruša, musical composer Václav Hálek, president Václav Havel, actress Dagmar Havlová, musician Milan Hlavsa, poet Ivan Martin Jirous, Prime Minister Václav Klaus, musical composer Jan Klusák, artist Milan Knížák, artist Vladimír Kokolia, poet and artist Jirí Kolár, poet Petr Král, writer Jirí Kratochvil, director Jirí Krejcík, writer Eda Kriseová, poet J. H. Krchovský, novinár / journalist Ivan Medek, politician Dana Nemcová, balladeer Pepa Nos, philosopher Radim Palouš, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Martin Palouš, inventor of the Tamara radar Vlastimil Pech, anarchist Jakub Polák, journalist Lída Rakušanová, philosopher Petr Rezek, photographer Jan Saudek, illustrator Karel Saudek, Rabbi Karol Sidon, poet Andrej Stankovic, musician Jirí Stivín, theologist Odillo Štampach, mystics Eduard Tomáš, Emilie Tomášová, politicians Václav Trojan, Petr Uhl, violinist Tomáš Vejvoda, microbiologist Miroslav Vosátka, theologist Fridolín Zahradník, predseda chairman of the Academy of Science of the Czech Republic Rudolf Zahradník, politician Miloš Zeman a and others


In this film, Vachek works partially from concepts in his unrealized screenplay of the 1970s (bringing them into the present), and also adopts the first part of his title from historian Bohuslav Balbín’s (1621–1688) overview of figures in Czech culture. The other parts of the title refer to Komenský (Comenius) and Dante. In the film, at irregular intervals, shots of Bohemian and Moravian castles appear, accompanied by various types of mushrooms. While mushrooms form a stand-alone motif in the film—one that is visible in, for instance, sculptor Milan Knížák’s scul­ptures, “mushroom- collecting” figures, a “singing mushroom,” etc.—this apparently entirely Dadaist gesture foreshadows the second part of the film, in which the voiceover announces “castle Klíma” or “castle Hašek” (the latter over the grave of Jaroslav Hašek, on which a mushroom has been placed in the manner of a flower). This is a metaphor for the “landscape of Czech culture,” from which personalities protrude, castle-like, and which, in Vachek’s work, extends to blend with the real landscape, its forests interwoven with mycelium. “The forest of Czech culture,” in return, connects to, “nurtures,” and influences the hidden grains of the mycelium. With slight exaggeration, we can say that through these grains, Vachek moves “from mushroom to mushroom” and “from castle to castle,” a metaphor that also encapsulates the director’s method of cinematic composition and he film’s dramatur­gical structure, in which, mutually and from various angles, individual motifs and concepts influence each other. Vachek demonstrates this approach within his film and also beyond it, for in various places the work openly connects to other films—to Jiří Krejčík’s Gra­duation in November (2000) (about which the two directors speak in Bohemia Docta); Vít Janeček’s Fungus (2000), which deals with the idea OF the rhizome and whose central figure is microbiologist Miroslav Vosátka; and Janeček, Roman Vávra and Miroslav Janek’s film Battle for Life (2000), whose principal actors are the residents of Bystry, and in which the “battle” for Janov that appears in Vachek’s film was shot (the film crew can even be glimpsed briefly in this scene). The connections Vachek draws between personalities and “worlds” go the furthest with the concept OF “resurrection,” a game into which he attempts to integrate even long-sincedeparted “learned Czechs”—aside from Hašek and Klíma, for instance, poet Karel Hynek Mácha. Poet Ivan Diviš, shortly before his own death, rails against the concept of resurrecting and meeting with the living-dead Mácha; in a clever way, Vachek (symbolically) returns to this polemic through his film: although Diviš and Foglar died during its production, through the film, they can always “rise again”—not only in the individual act of a screening, but also in progression of the film’s events (for passages in which the men are already “dead” are intercut with their “living” appearance without regard for natural chronology).