Archive of films The Barnabáš Kos Case / Prípad Barnabáš Kos

1964, 92 min

Section: Out of the Past
Year: 2019

“Zeal, discipline and modesty” – these are the qualities that the bureaucratic machine takes into account when it decides to promote a triangle player to the position of orchestral director. Except, in the present case, “modesty” is equivalent to indifference and malleability. In this satire of the absurdities of life under socialism, Josef Kemr’s understated performance makes for a highly convincing characterisation of the anti-hero.


Peter Solan’s satire clearly shows that when combined with power, dilettantism is likely to destroy all creative endeavour. With this picture he joined filmmakers who, in the 1960s, dared to  criticise the misguided practices that were a normal way of life in socialist Czechoslovakia. As in the short story by Peter Karvaš that inspired it, the film finds its “model collective” in the orchestra, whose rehearsals become an embarrassing farce thanks to its least important member – Barnabáš Kos, triangle player. After bureaucratic manoeuvring propels him to the post of ensemble director, the exploited eager beaver now enjoys status as the Great Reorganiser, championing the triangle as the principal instrument. While the film’s narrative style is largely still traditional, the scenes of absurdity align with the poetics of the New Wave.

Zdena Škapová

About the director

Peter Solan (b. 1929, Banská Bystrica, Czechoslovakia – 2013, Bratislava, Slovakia). Selected filmography: The Boxer and Death (Boxer a smrť, 1962), Face in the Window (Tvár v okne, 1963), The Barnabáš Kos Case (1964), Before This Night Is Over (Kým sa skončí táto noc, 1965), Garden Full of Nappies (Záhrada plná plienok, 1980, TV film), About Fame and Grass (O sláve a tráve, 1984)


Slovenský filmový ústav / Slovak Film Institute
Grösslingová 32, 811 09, Bratislava
Tel: +421 257 101 503
Fax: +421 252 963 461
E-mail: [email protected]

About the film

Black & white, DCP

Section: Out of the Past
Director: Peter Solan
Screenplay: Peter Karvaš, Albert Marenčin
Dir. of Photography: Tibor Biath
Music: Pavol Šimai
Editor: Maximilián Remeň
Art Director: Mikuláš Vida
Producer: Gejza Maráky
Production: Štúdio hraných filmov Bratislava - Koliba
Cast: Josef Kemr, Jarmila Košťová, Milivoj Uzelac, Josef Bartl, Ján Bzdúch, Hana Sarvašová, Viliam Polónyi, Eduard Grečner, Naďa Hejná, Dagmar Kákošová, Jaroslav Rozs
Sales: Slovenský filmový ústav / Slovak Film Institute


Rastislav Steranka

Film Institution Rep.


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