Lucerna Cinema on making Czechoslovak film classics foreigner friendly


Lucerna Cinema, built in 1909 by the grandfather of the late Czech president Václav Havel, is one of the oldest cinemas in Europe. While they screen both Czech and international films, their monthly series Made in Czechoslovakia spotlights a classic movie with English subtitles, making it friendly to expats and tourists alike.

On Monday Lucerna Cinema or Kino Lucerna in downtown Prague will be screening the 1963 film IKARIE XB 1 1963, directed by Jindřich Polák.

 Lucerna Cinema or Kino Lucerna in downtown Prague | Photo: Amelia  Mola-Schmidt,  Radio Prague International

The showing is part of their Made in Czechoslovakia film series, where a classic Czechoslovak movie is shown with English subtitles.

IKARIE XB 1 is a sci-fi film that predates major films of the genre like 2001: A Space Odyssey and Star Trek.

The movie is based on a novel by Polish writer Stanisław Lem. Štěpán Bukáček, manager at Kino Lucerna, explains:

“It deals with the topics of humanity and the unknown. It’s kind of philosophical too, but in a very thrilling way.

“It’s really good to see that these movies were made in Czechoslovakia and Eastern Europe way before the genre got so popular in Western Europe.

“It actually had some influences on some of the most famous movies too.

“I don’t know if this is a fact that can be verified, but if you look at Kubrick’s Space Odyssey and you look at this movie, there are a lot of similarities.”

Štěpán Bukáček | Photo: Amelia  Mola-Schmidt,  Radio Prague International

The Made in Czechoslovakia series was established by Lucerna so tourists and expats living in Prague could experience Czech cinema history, offering monthly screenings of Czech classics.

Bukáček explains why he think it’s important to do.

“Some of these films influenced pop culture, but they also describe what Czech life was like, especially the movies from the 1960s, they’re very human and very funny.

“All of them have this realistic or existential way of describing and portraying Czech people.

“So I would say, if you want to understand Czech culture and people a little bit more, this is the perfect way.”

Many of these films are an important piece of heritage, and were actually banned during the communist regime, never making it to the silver screen.

“Some of these movies were considered so dangerous by the communist regime that they were locked up, and they never made it on cinema screens, or only very limited screenings.

“This is also a good way to learn about Czech history.”

The series started with screenings of films from the Czech New Wave, an important time in Czech cinema history, represented among others by the world famous film director Milos Forman.

“In the 60s, there was this group of filmmakers and their movies were internationally known – their films were very famous abroad and they were winning at festivals.

Screening room in Lucerna where Made in Czechoslovakia series is shown | Photo: Amelia  Mola-Schmidt,  Radio Prague International

“But this was only something they could do because of the freedom of the 60s.

“It was a better time to make these movies, but unfortunately after August 1968, it got worse again with the invasion of the Soviet armies.

“Some of these filmmakers either started making films abroad, like Miloš Forman, or they tried to work under these new restrictions.”

But while certainly unwelcomed, these harsh restrictions ushered in a new era of film culture in Czechoslovakia.

“There was this new boom of movies that didn’t deal with heavy topics, but are still very popular and are technically very well done.

“Some of the people that worked on films in the 60s worked on these films too.

“One point you can really concentrate on in these movies is the music.

“There were a lot of great soundtracks for these films made by composer Zdeněk Liška.

“So there’s always something you can find, even in the movies that are considered an easy going comedy with no added value, that’s not the point.

“All of them have something to offer.”

Made in Czechoslovakia: IKARIE XB 1

26.06.2023 – 8pm

Kino Lucerna

Vodičkova 36

Praha 1

run audio