Zelenka in post-production of anticipated Karamazov film
Petr Zelenka has long been recognised as one of the most talented filmmakers of his generation, whose quirky films including a mockumentary about a famous Czech folk singer have been well received by both critics and wider audiences. This summer, the director completed filming on The Karamazovs, a film - as the title makes explicit - which takes inspiration from Russian author Fyodor Dostoyevsky's greatest novel, The Brothers Karamazov. Zelenka is now in post-production, but already the film is being viewed with great anticipation, a story which follows the lives of a number of Czech theatre actors and their performance of the Karamazov story in Poland.
"I try to keep the play and the text in the film very simple: from Dostoyevsky we have the story of the lawsuit, basically, and it's a bit of a detective story, that's how we treat it. We focus on the family and the question 'Who killed the father?' and it works perfectly on that level. Around the play - which is being rehearsed in a factory -around the play is a very simple tragedy of one of the factory workers, whose son is injured when he falls from a staircase. During the rehearsal the worker gets a phone call that the son has died during an operation to save him. An absolute personal tragedy. But he stays and watches the rehearsal and actually all the actors begin performing just for him. It becomes a performance for one viewer, one spectator."
"He is passionate, always very well-prepared, and he is unique in the sense of always knowing what theme he is playing. Sometimes he doesn't 'do' much in the sense of facial expressions or grimaces and it's just other people talking to him, but somehow he manages to deliver the theme to the viewer in a very crystal-clear form. That's what is unique about him."
"That's the beauty of course, the beauty of it: you can see the person changing from an 'actor' to a normal person, okay not normal really, but you can see Ivan Trojan changing from Ivan Trojan to Old Karamazov, and that's beautiful of course. He's not the lead actor, but he steals the show just a bit."
"The factory itself had a very industrial look and we were really looking for heavy, dark places with very strong blacks. I love to use lots of darkness and for the theatre I think that is helps set the atmosphere for the whole movie. The factory was really very dirty but we loved this, lots of 'patina'. The atmosphere really helped to provide a more depressing feeling and helped to bring the story into focus."
"The final film I think is a mix of cooler with tungsten light and that's what we decided with Petr because we both love to mix different color temperatures for different atmosphere. Behind the windows you see real daylight, while inside you have tungsten. One the main stage we used lots of back lights and beams for dramatic effect, while in the 'real life' scenes we relied on natural light to provide a greater natural feeling to the story."
"It shows in the parts that are written around Dostoyevsky but also the way the material was adapted by the Dejvicke Theatre. But also Old Karamazov and Smerdyakov are sort of clowns, even the father is a sort of clown. Their relationship is that of a father and a clown and even the father is a clown. The tragedy is 'somewhere else' but Old Karamazov and Smerdyakov are funny people. And I kept that. That is where a lot of humor comes from."