AŽ PŘIJDE KOCOUR
Sog.: Vojtěch Jasný. Scen.: Jiří Brdečka, Vojtěch Jasný, Jan Werich. F.: Jaroslav Kučera. M.: Jan Chaloupek. Scgf.: Oldřich Bosák. Mus.: Svatopluk Havelka. Int.: Jan Werich (castellano Oliva/mago), Emilie Vašáryová (Diana), Vlastimil Brodský (maestro Robert), Jiří Sovák (direttore Karel), Vladimír Menšík (bidello), Jiřina Bohdalová (maestra Julie), Karel Effa (Janek), VlastaChramostová (Marjánka), Alena Kreuzmannová (pettegola), Stella Zázvorková (Růžena, moglie del direttore). Prod.: Filmové studio Barrandov. DCP. D.: 105’. Col.
When Až přijde kocour by Vojtěch Jasný screened at Cannes in 1963, it was accepted as one of the major events of the festival’s 16th edition. Although it did not receive the main award (the Palme d’Or went to Visconti’s The Leopard), the film obtained three prizes altogether, including the Special Jury Prize. The name of Vojtěch Jasný was not unknown to the Cannes festival. He had already competed in 1959 with Touha (Desire), an anthology film where discrete stories thematically correspond to the four seasons. While that ‘quartet from human life’ was shot in Academy format black and white, Až přijde kocour was Jasný’s first widescreen colour film. He used colour not in order to create a mechanical imitation of reality, but to endow reality with new meaning and amplify the statement of the whole work. The very genre of the film encouraged such a treatment – a modern fairytale with components of satire and parable. The key ‘character’ is a magical cat, whose gaze causes people to change colour according to their attributes and actions. Liars become violet, thieves are grey, unfaithful people are yellow and those in love become red. At the time of the film’s original release, both general audiences and professionals assumed the colorization was produced through laboratory processing. But that was only partially true. The perfection of the trick was achieved through the actors’ clothing and masking as well as Jaroslav Kučera’s camerawork. His artistry is also visible in less spectacular scenes, where he underlines the beauty of the Czech countryside and the ph togenic grace of the town of Telč (whose Renaissance-era historic centre is on the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites). With this film, Jasný confirmed his stature as a lyricist, combining his childhood experience with an allegory of society. The ensemble of distinguished Czechoslovak actors is dominated by Jan Werich in a dual role – as both the castellan/narrator of the story and the magician/owner of the magical cat. In the civic life of the period, he stood out as a moral authority and a nuisance to the totalitarian regime.