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A HIGHER PRINCIPLE

Czechoslovakia, 1960 (MIFF 1961, Programme 1)

Director: Jiri Krejcik

In 1946 Jan Drda, a 31-year-old writer, published a book of eleven stories called "The Silent Barricade", all dealing with the struggle against the Nazis. He had already written a number of books, of which the most popular, "A Pocket-sized Town", had been filmed. "The Silent Barricade" was actually a draft for a lengthy novel about the occupation Otakar Vavra, the well-known Czech director. In 1948 made a film version of the concluding story, which gave the book its title. Now, twelve years later, a further story from this collection reaches the screen. A Higher Principle is an analysis of moral attitudes. The story is a short one: in a small peaceful town three students are arrested by the Gestapo during an examination. When their master, known by the students as Higher Principle on account of his favourite and oft-repeated phrase, (earns that the boys have been shot, he finds the strength to reject the abject letter of apology for the boys' behaviour, which one of the masters, a collaborator, suggests the staff should send to the occupants. Based on fact — the shooting of three school boys took place in June, 1942, in Pribram, a mining town — the director has set the action in an East Bohemian town and successfully reproduced the oppression of the occupation. The screenplay has been broadened from the original short story and the triviality of the offence for which the Nazis executed the boys has been stressed. Zdenek Uska's music subtly underlines the tragic overtones of the story. .

Jiri Krejcik, well-known Czech director, has previously directed Conscience and Mrs. Dulsa's Morals. Frantisek Smolik received a gold medal at the Venice Festival for his performance in the leading role.

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