Christmas is a time of fairy-tales in the Czech Republic. The TV channels run fairy-tales day and night and the best thing is that they don’t need to look far to find them as Czech filmmakers have made dozens of excellent fairy-tales, some of which are even famous abroad.
Although there are new fairy-tales released every year at Christmas there are a few perennial stars which have appeared on TV during Christmas holidays every year since 50 years ago. These three fary-tales will take you to the magical world of Czech Christmas.
1. Tři oříšky pro Popelku / Three Wishes for Cinderella (1973)
In German Drei Haselnüsse für Aschenbrödel and in English Three Wishes for Cinderella is the most emblematic Czech Christmas fairy-tale. The list of fairy-tales might change but this one will ALWAYS be on TV at Christmas time. This visually beautiful Czech-German movie tells the story of a young girl whose wit and skills ultimately get her into the palace. What makes this story better than other tales of Cinderella is the fact that this Popelka isn’t a fragile girl crying for help but a strong young lady who’s not afraid to face challenges. The leading role of Cinderella literally catapulted the career of Libuše Šafránková, who almost instantly became one of the most acclaimed Czech actresses and the undisputed nr. 1 among the Czech princesses to this day.
This fairy-tale has become popular all over Europe and the USA. Although the original movie was released in Czech, some of the characters (king, queen, stepmother) had to be dubbed as they were played by German actors.
Interesting trivia: Pavel Trávníček who starrs as the prince has had a strong South-Moravian accent, so the film-makers decided to dub his voice.
S čerty nejsou žerty / Give the Devil His Due (1984)
When Petr’s father dies, his step-mother goes out of her way to get rid of the young man. He is sent to war but manages to escape and meets another young man, who is in fact a devil who was send to Earth to correct his mistake. Together the duo tries to set things right and Petr’s hearts is set on marrying the princess he fell in love with. The only problem is that she might not be the right princess…
This fairy-tale is funny, adventurous and with great acting which makes it many people’s favourite Christmas movie.
Interesting trivia: Several phrases from this movie became so popular that they became a part of the common language. Probably the most famous is Je to rebel! (He’s a rebel!). Also calling someone Dorota Máchalová (name of the step-mother) is an insult.
Where to watch it: here
Byl jednou jeden král / Once Upon a Time, There Was a King… (1954)
This timeless classic, still hugely popular today, tells the story of a king who expels one of his daughter after she says she loves him like she loves the salt (the movie is based on a Czech fairy-tale called “Salt over gold”). To prove he’s right he decides to live without salt and soon discovers that he and his courtiers are willing to give up anything just to be able to salt their meals.
The actor who portrays the king is none other than the legendary Jan Werich a close friend and co-worker of Jiří Voskovec (in the US known as George Voskovec). Thanks to him and other famous comedians the movie is full of humorous moments.
Interesting trivia: Milena Dvorská who plays princess Maruška was a 15-year-old highschool student at the moment of the shooting. Although the movie launched her career, Maruška remained her most famous role.
The lyrics to the songs were written by Jaroslav Seifert who was awarded Nobel Prize for Literature.
Where to watch it: https://www.amazon.com/Once-Upon-Time-There-King/dp/B07PM8L16Y
Have you had the chance to watch these Czech Christmas fairy-tales?