A few days ago we had a three movie marathon with our favorite Czech child actor, Tomáš Holý. Writing the post on The Ancient Bohemian Forest Known as Šumava, I remembered that we had these films and it was so windy and stormy outside, it was the perfect day to make popcorn, bake brownies, pull out our snuggly lap blankets and enjoy a lazy family movie day.
The first film we watched is the first in the three film series, Pod Jezevci skalou (1978).
We are introduced to Straka (Gustáv Valach), a cranky gamekeeper who lives alone in Šumava (The Bohemian Forest). Its immediately obvious that this man has become accustomed to his solitary life. He has a daily routine and a trusty hound who is his best friend and only companion. We learn that he had a son, but he has not spoken to him in many years, unable to forgive him for abandoning his beloved forest and settling at a desk job in an office somewhere in Prague. He also has a grandson, Vašek (Tomáš Holý), whom he has never even met because he cannot come to terms his own son abandoned him (and his wishes that he too would be a gamekeeper).
Following an illness, little Vašek has been told he needs some country air to get well again so his mother, Jarmila (Jana Brejchová), takes him to her father-in-law’s cottage where she plans to drop him off for the two-month summer break. Straka is not pleased and he expresses his anger openly. Vašek also does not want to stay, yet they are both in for a surprise when Jarmila leaves and they are both stuck in their situation.
A series of comedic things occur making Straka more angry, and Vašek quickly learns that life is the forest is not at all like his life in the city. Soon, the two become the best of friends, respecting each other’s boundaries while filling each other’s hearts. Some of the greatest scenes are perhaps when we see the joy and verve into which Vašek throws himself while having new adventures in the landscape the forest provides. It’s also warming to see Straka open his heart to this most lovable little boy.
A wonderful film filled with gorgeous scenes of Šumava and the tiny villages beneath the forests, this 74 minute Czech classic can be purchased on eBay.
Next, we watched is the second in the three film series, Na pytlacke stezce (1979).
This film in the series begins with a distraught Straka, believing that he will not get to spend time with his grandson because little Vašek is supposed to go to Bulgaria during his summer vacation for a holiday with his parents instead of going back to spend the summer with his grandfather. Being a tenacious boy, he plans in advance, hiding his suitcase with a neighbor and saving enough money for a bus fare. On the last day of school Vašek picks up his final report, but after that he takes his already packed bag and sets off for the Bohemian Forest without telling his parents.
By this time, we already know that the little gamekeeper, knowledgeable and appreciative of the forest just like his grandfather, finds the prospect of spending the summer with his gamekeeper grandfather far more tempting than the seaside and we’re happy to see him take this adventure. A friendly bus driver helps to deliver him to the right place and Straka is pleasantly surprised when Vašek appears and is happy to have his grandson at his side again. In the evening, a call comes from Vašek’s mother, and the trip to Bulgaria is postponed.
Once again, Vašek and his grandfather have various experiences in the forest together. There are a pair of silly Tramps who camp in the area, a strange man who collects poisonous snakes and there’s even a poacher on the loose. Vašek is such an inquisitive boy who maintains a positive attitude to nature and to animals and once again this film highlights him experiencing many adventures. With more action than the first in the series, it concludes with his mother coming a week before the end of summer so they can still have their family trip to Bulgaria. As they are saying their goodbye’s, little Vašek receives a cute little gamekeeper’s hound of his own announcing “but now I can’t go to Bulgaria!”
This 73 minute Czech classic can be purchased on eBay.
Finally, we watched the third and final in the film series, Za trnkovym kerem (1980).
In the last part of the trilogy from the beautiful Bohemian Forest known as Šumava, the focus is once again on the gamekeeper Straka and his grandson Vašek. Sharing adventures involving poachers, badgers and battling storms, the two have formed a strong bond and now view each other as heroes. Once again, Vašek has a memorable summer vacation.
Previously we saw Vašek with almost a naively enraptured view of nature, mainly because of his age, his grandfather’s protection and his innocence. The primary lesson in this conclusion is that it’s time for grandfather to teach him about understanding the life and laws of nature, and his innocent becomes replaced with a more sympathetic view when Vašek realizes that nature must be protected at all costs. Of course, being the cute little boy he is, this causes a whole series of comic situations while teaching the viewers about the importance of environmental protection.
This installment is 71 minutes and can also be purchased on eBay.
The films in this series were extremely popular because by this time Tomáš Holý was already a recognizable film star and loved by all Czechs.
Below are images capturing moments from the three films.
The sweet little child actor, Tomáš Holý, is loved to this day in Czech Republic. He appeared in twenty-one films. Tragically, he died in a car accident on March 8, 1990 in Kytlice. He was only twenty-two years old.
For our Czech language readers, we’re sure you will appreciate the following video which is a tribute to this bright star’s life. In it fellow actors, family and friends share their experiences and memories.
We have seen some of the other films they mention in the video, and we’ll save the review of those for another post in the future…
Rest in Peace little Tomáš…