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The Organ

Organ
Director: Štefan Uher

Czechoslovakia, drama, 1965, 99 min

The story begins with a Polish military deserter, Brother Felix, taking shelter in a Franciscan monastery. He lands at the centre of a web of relationships that reveals the depth of hypocrisy, inanity and greed that characterized the life in the local provincial town. The monastery’s superior discovers in Brother Felix an extraordinary musical talent ‘to convey the beauty of holiness through music’ and arranges for him to play the organ in a local church. Through such a talented organist all the town is blessed with great, noble music. But despite all the holiness and power of Brother Felix’s music there is a person who becomes deeply discontent with his new role in the monastery. The regular choirmaster, Vendelín Bachňák believes that only he is a perfect music player and the most highly respected citizen, so the appearance of Felix leads him through a personal crisis. Bachňák is striving to achieve his personal importance despite the challenge of his small stature and the failure of such illusions lead the story to a tragic end. Since the communist regime in 1965 could not be criticized directly, “The Organ’s” story takes place in the Franciscan monastery during World War II in Slovakia and the picture of the Nazi regime becomes a parable about the totalitarian nature of the communist regime.

Awards:

1965 – Special Prize for director Štefan Uher at the Locarno International Film Festival (Switzerland).

About the director:

A Slovak film director Štefan Uher (1930–1993) was one of the founders of the Czechoslovak New Wave – artistic expression opposite to the romanticizing style and cinematic idealisations typical to socialist realism, propagated by the communist regime. Štefan Uher’s cinematic language is as exquisite and deliberate as any of his European contemporaries, including Michelangelo Antonioni, Ingmar Bergman and Chris Marker. Uher graduated from the FAMU ("Film and TV School of the Academy of Performing Arts") in Prague, in 1955. After some short films the director made his first feature film, “We from Study Group 9-A” (My z deviatej A, 1962), about the life of a group of 15-year-old students and their school. In 1963 he made the second film “The Sun in a Net” (Slnko v sieti) that became a key film in the development of the Czechoslovak New Wave – socially critical or experimental films of the 1960s marked by a gradual relaxation of communist control. In connection with this film some of Uher’s contemporaries called him the ‘John the Baptist’ of a whole young generation, the first modern director not only in Slovakia but also in the Czech-speaking lands. “The Sun in a Net” started Uher's friendship and artistic cooperation with the author-screenwriter Alfonz Bednár and the cinematographer Stanislav Szomolányi. The trio also cooperated on the films “The Organ” (Organ, 1964) and “Three Daughters” (Tri dcéry, 1967).

Section: Films of the Golden Period: Slovak New Wave

Screenplay: Alfonz Bednár

Dir. of Photography: Stanislav Szomolányi

Music: Ján Zimmer

Cast: Albert Augustíny, František Bubík, Kamil Marek, Alexander Březina, Ján Bartko