Archive of films The Party and the Guests / O slavnosti a hostech

Czechoslovakia
1966, 68 min

Section: Out of the Past

Countless parables exist on power and its devastating impact, but only rarely does the focus include the opposing side: not just the victims but also henchmen, opportunists, informers, cowards and, simply, people who lack their own opinions. Never had they been so precisely identified until Jan Němec made this film.


Synopsis

Němec’s “description of a party” could be seen as both parable and lampoon, and there is thus a double justification for the allusion to the title of one of Kafka’s stories. The film resembles the prose of that dark visionary in its alienating style and its content, and focuses on distorted mechanisms of behavior that establish themselves as fully operational and normative. At the same time both artists portrayed even the most bizarre characters and situations with detachment, as if such things were natural and rather mundane. A sinisterly gracious host invites only guests who are obedient and loyal to his elegantly set tables, while even the slightest expression of disagreement is punished. At the time of production the stylized situation was taken as a virulent attack against the regime, something understood by average viewers and by the censors, who hobbled the film in a variety of ways. It likely only added to the legend of this absurd parable, a work that remains timeless in its rendering of the choices people make when brought face-to-face with power.

Zdena Škapová

About the director

Jan Němec (1936–2016), director, screenwriter, university teacher, creator of pure auteur films, renowned as an unrepentant rebel and seeker. After graduating in 1960 from Prague’s FAMU, he gained notice for the raw and authentic Diamonds of the Night (1964), a picture that won world recognition, and the director’s subsequent work guaranteed him a leading position in the Czechoslovak New Wave. Forced exile in 1974-89 interrupted his career, although he kept his hand in the business abroad; after his return he picked up where he left off with The Flames of Royal Love (1990). After founding his own production company in 1990 he experimented with digital technology. His unconventional take on a foremost Czech surrealist painter in Toyen (2005) is a standout, and he reconfirmed his reputation as a thoroughgoing nonconformist with the auto-biopic Late Night Talks with Mother (2001).

Contacts

National Film Archive
Malešická 12, 130 00, Praha 3
Czech Republic
E-mail: nfa@nfa.cz
www: www.nfa.cz

About the film

Black & white, 35 mm

Section: Out of the Past
   
Director: Jan Němec
Screenplay: Ester Krumbachová, Jan Němec
Dir. of Photography: Jaromír Šofr
Music: Karel Mareš
Editor: Miroslav Hájek
Art Director: Oldřich Bosák, Ester Krumbachová
Producer: Ladislav Kalaš
Production: Filmové studio Barrandov
Cast: Ivan Vyskočil, Jan Klusák, Jiří Němec, Pavel Bošek, Evald Schorm, Karel Mareš, Jana Prachařová, Zdena Škvorecká, Helena Pejšková
Sales: National Film Archive

Guests

Tomáš Žůrek

Sales Agent

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