Iconic Czech epic turned into new film
Last week saw the premiere of ‘Máj’ (or ‘May’), a film version of an iconic romantic poem written by one of the greatest Czech poets, Karel Hynek Mácha. The film director, František A. Brabec, already has experience of adapting poetry to screen: his previous film ‘Kytice’ was an adaptation of another 19th century literary classic, an anthology of ballads by Karel Jaromír Erben. So, how did the filmmaker succeed in transforming a lyrical epic of love and death into a movie? Ruth Fraňková has more.
“The problem of the film adaptation is that there is no story. The poem is first of all a celebration of nature, of beautiful literature and of Karel Hynek Mácha’s verse. But in terms of action there is not really much going on. So the most difficult thing was to create a story and to decide whether it should be a story of life or a story of death.”
Throughout the film you can hear some of the best-know lines from ‘Máj’, recited by the legendary Czech actor Jan Tříska, featuring in the role of executioner. All the other characters, however, use contemporary colloquial Czech. Director František A. Brabec again:
‘Maj’s’ premiere aroused an emotional reaction from Czech critics, most of whom have slated the movie. It seems that touching upon a Czech literary treasure can be a risky thing to do.