Archive of films Master Executioner / Majster kat
1966, 105 min
Section: Tribute to Paľo Bielik
The historical narrative Master Executioner is the product of Master Bielik’s late period. Filmed a few years after Jánošík, it continues the exploitation of the wide-screen format, vibrant colour, local extras and the sex appeal of young thespian blood. "For me, the greatest film god is the audience itself” – Bielik’s well-known aphorism is today more of a justification for this "historical blockbuster”.
Set in an imaginary Central European town under Turkish control about 300 years ago, this film tells the story of two friends – fisherman Richardus (Štefan Kvietik) and executioner Emil (Vlado Müller). They are proud, defiant men, with Jánošík blood flowing through their veins. Their inherent rebelliousness, manifesting itself daily in these times of Turkish subjugation, brings the two allies even closer together. Bielik once again examines his familiar theme of lifelong friendship, here sorely tested when both men fall for the same woman.... This is essentially a simple and, in terms of power distribution, black-and-white tale; to this the director has added strong shades of local Turkish colour which – given the production design and level of exoticism – was unprecedented in Slovakia at that time. Bielik clearly also planned to distribute the film abroad, hence his endeavour to spice it up with tried and trusted ingredients: emphasis on extreme emotion, the use of historical props and costumes, vibrant colour and nudity.
Master Executioner – a widescreen film made in 1966 with a budget of over five million crowns – was seen by more than 800,000 people before the year was out, with audience figures later reaching 2.4 million. Nevertheless, the critics were unforgiving, and history seems to have agreed with them. Of all the "maestro’s” films, Master Executioner has probably lagged behind the most. Although a degree of respect for the erstwhile craft of Koliba Film Studios still hovers in the background, the film remains something of an aged spectacle today. Master Executioner might be described as Bielik-esque Baroque or early Rococo, betraying as it does a certain grandiloquence and exuberance of form consistent with the late style of an otherwise generally restrained director.
About the film
Color, 35 mm
|Section:||Tribute to Paľo Bielik|
|Dir. of Photography:||Vladimír Ješina|
|Production:||Československý film Bratislava, Štúdio hraných filmov Bratislava-Koliba|
|Cast:||Vlado Müller, Štefan Kvietik, Emília Vášáryová, Peter Debnár, Jozef Budský, Zuzana Jariabková, Oľga Adamčíková, Eduard Bindas, Daniel Michaelli|
|Contact:||Slovenský filmový ústav / Slovak Film Institute|
Film Institution Rep.