Big budget Czech film hits cinema screens

Dark Blue World

Wednesday this week was a big day for the Czech Republic's film industry, with the premiere of Dark Blue World, produced and directed by the father-and-son team of Zdenek and Jan Sverak, whose last film, Kolya, won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film in 1997. A huge amount of media hype preceded the premiere of Dark Blue World, which depicts the experiences of Czechoslovak pilots who fought in the RAF in WWII, and the film has already received great critical acclaim in the Czech press. But is the hype deserved, and can the Sveraks live up to their past successes? Nick Carey has this report.

Dark Blue World
Tmavodmodry Svet, or Dark Blue World, as the Czech press have repeatedly pointed out over the past few weeks, is the most expensive Czech film ever made, with a total budget of roughly seven million US dollars. The film follows a group of Czech pilots who have escaped from the Nazi Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia and enlist in the RAF to fight against Nazi Germany. The film mixes both Czech and English actors, and English and Czech dialogue, with the two main characters both falling in love with their English teacher.

Tomas Baldinsky, the editor in chief of Premiere Magazine, feels this is the best Czech movie ever produced:

Dark Blue World
"I wrote that Dark Blue World is the best Czech movie ever made, because I was really amazed by the quality of the movie. Whenever you see a Czech movie, even if it has a great story and great acting, it just doesn't look like, well I wouldn't say Hollywood, but it doesn't look like big European or international movies.

"Tmavomodry svet, Dark Blue World, has everything. It has a story that everyone can comprehend, it's not that difficult, it's not artistic, it's just a normal story. It has great cinematography, it has great acting. I've seen the movie three times, but in my heart it is not the first, not the second, or even the tenth Czech film, it's simply a great movie and I hope that everyone in the Czech Republic goes to see it," Baldynsky said.

The Czech media have made much of the fact that the film portrays Czech pilots fighting against the Nazis, and that homage is finally being paid to the young men who really did risk life and limb in the RAF, only to return home and be imprisoned by the Communists after the coup in 1948. But, says Mr Baldinsky, Dark Blue World is not simply a glorification of their exploits, but a story of two ordinary men in extraordinary circumstances:

"It's not that much about being brave, going to some unknown country to offer them your services. It's just about two guys who are friends and live in a very strange period of time. They go somewhere, they meet a woman and then they have to deal with the fact that both of them have fallen in love with same woman."

Dark Blue World has already been bought up by distributors in several European countries, and seems set to follow in the footsteps of their previous film, Kolya, and perhaps even surpass it. Tomas Baldinsky feels that director Jan Sverak is developing a universal style that audiences everywhere will be able to enjoy:

"He has the capability to express himself so that everyone in the world can understand him and in this movie he has gone much further than in Kolya, which was sometimes very Czech and what Jan Sverak has done is create a universal story, told in a universal way."