While walking down the streets of Prague or any other Czech country try to imagine yourself being a main character in a Hollywood movie that lives in Europe in the mid century. If you’ve ever been to the Czech Republic, chances are that you know exactly what I mean. The Czech Republic is one of the most architecturally rich countries in Europe. Of course, a lot of filmmakers can not resist using the breathtaking historical places of Prague combined with it’s mid century architecture.
Actual Czech film history goes back to the Austro-Hungarian empire. The first feature film was shot in the Czech Republic was in 1896 in Bohemia. The first Czechoslovak movies that were successful abroad were Extasy (Extase, 1933) directed by Gustav Machatý, and River (Řeka, 1933) directed by Josef Rovenský. The 1960’s are recognized as the golden age of Czechoslovak film.
The most famous directors of that time studied at Prague’s Film and Television School of the Academy of Perfoming Arts (FAMU), which is one of the oldest film academies in Europe. The films The Shop on Main Street (Obchod na korze, 1965) and Menzel’s Closely Watched Trains (Ostře sledované vlaky, 1966) won Oscars for Best Foreign Language Film.
The Czech film industry was influenced by Soviets in August 1968. After the Soviet invasion the golden era of Czechoslovak filmmaking ended.
Another change in the Czech movie industry happened after the fall of USSR and the Velvet Revolution. After the revolution, foreign film studios became attracted to the Czech Republic and its historical places. The foreign productions made up for the decrease that happened in local film productions.
It’s no wonder that ever since the Velvet Revolution the Czech Republic has been an attractive location for foreign filmmakers. The Czech Republic fascinated some of the Hollywood studios that took advantage of its rich middle century architecture that stayed safe and untouched even after World War II.
One of the most popular examples of a Hollywood production shot in Prague is the film Amadeus. The film is about Mozart as told through the eyes of his enemy Antonia Salieri. The film won eight Academy Awards in 1985. Most of the film was shot in Prague and was presented as 19th Century Vienna. Some of the sets for this film were built in a studio, however most of them were shot on locations like Kostel svatého Jiljí (St. Giles’ Church), that was used to picture Mozart’s wedding, Prague’s Arcibiskupský and many other places.
Another very famous blockbuster shot in Prague is the James Bond movie, Casino Royal, with Daniel Craig. The film was shot in various different European countries and one of them was the Czech Republic. The filmmakers used the locations like Václav Havel Airport and turned it into Miami International. The Amy Museum Žižkov was transformed into Miami’s Body World exhibition and Strahov Monastery was shown as the UK’s House of Commons. Lastly Karlovy Vary and Loket became Montenegro.
There are a lot of other famous movies that were shot in Prague like Mission Impossible, The Trial, Hellboy, Running Scared and most recently Anthropoid.
For those who like to enjoy new upcoming movies in cinemas have to know that Prague has some great movie theaters. The most famous cinema in Prague is perhaps Cinemacity. It’s located in most of the shopping malls like Pankrac, Palladium and Flora.
Films are mostly shown in English language with the Czech subtitles, unless it’s a Czech movie that was shot in the Czech language.
For exceptional film lovers, that are willing to attend some film festivals in Czech Republic, here are some recommendations:
- Projekt 100 is screening in independent cinemas throughout the Czech Republic. Each year the Association of Czech Film Clubs selects a lot of classic and recent films to spread them all around the Czech Republic.
- Short Film Fest is held in Prague Kino Světozor. This festival is organized by the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival producers, that organize this festival of short films that are under 25 minutes. The festival also shows the experimental and classic short films.
There are more film festivals held in the Czech Republic that you can check on the site Expats.com.
The Czech Republic is the perfect place for filmmakers that want to recreate the 18th or 19th century without setting it in a studio. The history and old architecture attracts not only filmmakers but also their viewers who get to travel in time and visually see the past.
This article was written by Nino Aphakidze.