Celebration in the Botanical Garden

Slávnost v botanickej záhrade
Director: Elo Havetta

Czechoslovakia, comedy, fantasy, adventure, 1969, 83 min

One of the lead characters is Maria, an inn keeper; always a bride but never a wife. She meets the newcomer Pierre, who disturbs the peace of the small village and teaches the locals how to enjoy life. The film is full of fireworks of lovely colours, and a warm feeling. It is like a carousel of humour and human situations that carry us away, from the very first frame to the unexpected ending, making the viewer laugh gaily. Using a mosaic approach to the traditional narrative line, the film director creates a picture of fairly anarchic glee. “Celebration in the Botanical Garden” is a world of fantasy, full of summer fun, good humour and delight. E. Havetta´s debut was inspired by naïve art, French impressionism, and silent slap-stick as well as Western Slovakian folk traditions.


1969 – The Grand Prize at the Mannheim Film Festival (Germany).

About the director:

The Slovakian film director Eliás Havetta, who was born in the former Czechoslovakia in 1938, made only two feature films in his brief, 37-year life, but created a really unique style with an anarchic, sometimes-called ‘mosaic approach’ to the traditional narrative line. When the filming of this first feature “Celebration in the Botanical Garden” (Slávnosť v Botanickej Záhrade, 1969) had just begun, Warsaw Pact troops invaded Prague on 21 August 1968, ending the period of liberalisation known as the Prague Spring. The film does not appear to have suffered undue delays because of this, and was completed and released in 1969. In the second film “Wild Lilies” (Ľalie Poľné, 1973) E. Havetta depicted scratched, degraded World War I images and talks about war in an indirect way. It is more interesting for E. Havetta to look more closely at the postwar effect – what it’s like for soldiers trying to get back to a normal life after being at war. Some of film’s characters struggle, others comfort themselves with the new motto: “Nothing can hurt us. We’re like the lilies of the field”.

Section: Films of the Golden Period: Slovak New Wave

Screenplay: Ľubomír Dohnal, Elo Havetta

Dir. of Photography: Jozef Šimončič

Music: Zdeněk Liška

Cast: Slavoj Urban, Jiří Sýkora, Nina Divíšková, Dušan Blaškovič, Hana Slivková, Jozef Belan, Viola Kováčová, Marta Rašlová, Margita Žemlová