The Play’s the Thing: Václav Havel - Art and Politics
The Heart above the Castle (Srdce nad Hradem) / And the Beggar’s Opera Again (A znovu Žebrácká opera)
dir. Jan Nemec, 2007, Czech with subtitles, 48 min.
In The Heart above the Castle
Havel takes director Jan Nemec behind the scenes of the 2002 NATO Summit in
Prague. Traveling into areas normally inaccessible and interviewing people
normally unreachable (heads of state, for example), the footage shows a
surprisingly “human side” of top politicians, capturing comical commentaries,
hesitancies, and small stresses, and bringing the formal world of politics and
the grandeur of NATO into the realm of the everyday.
And the Beggar’s Opera Again (A znovu Žebrácká opera)
dir. Olga Sommerová, 1996, Czech w/ English subtitles, 60 min.
Through Olga Sommerová’s creatively intercut
film, two productions of Václav Havel’s Beggar’s Opera reveal the political
dynamics of the former Czechoslovakia before and after the Velvet Revolution in
1989. The dress rehearsal of the play’s world premiere in 1975 captures the
stress of artists who conspired through theater against the totalitarian
regime. The production is contrasted with the relaxed atmosphere of the dress
rehearsal of the play performed again in 1995 by the theatrical group Divadlo
na tahu at Havel’s cottage in the village of Hrádecek.
Special Thanks to: Margaret Parsons, Head of the Film Program at the National Gallery of Art, National Film Archive in Prague, The Václav Havel Library, the Mutual Inspirations Festival 2013 Czech Television, and the Embassy of the Czech Republic.