The Czech Republic was and still is the home of many talented singers. None of them has however become as influential as Karel Gott – a man whose career spanned over fifty years, from the 1960s to his death in 2019.
Karel Gott was born in 1939. He first started actively singing in the 1950s and became a professional performer in 1960 after quitting his day job. His career took off after he was hired to work for the theatre “Semafor” and cooperated with the talented duo Jiří Suchý and Jiří Šlitr. The song they wrote for Karel won him his first significant Czech singing award, known as the Golden Nightingale.
Karel created his first solo album in 1966. A year later, he flew to the USA where he gained further experience as a performer. In 1968, he competed in Austria in the Eurovision Song Contest which brought him into the public eye and made him popular not only in Austria, but also in Germany and Switzerland. The 1970s proved to be a very successful period for Karel who recorded a new album almost every year. In the 1980s Karel once again performed in multiple countries and distant lands, Asia included. He also acted in several films and documentaries.
As for his overall work, Karel Gott sold over 50 million albums which made him the most successful Czech singer ever. He recorded 239 albums both in his native country and abroad. He sang in multiple languages, not only in Czech, but also in English, German, Italian and Russian. The number of songs he sang testifies to his immense talent and creativity – he gave his voice to around 2500 songs.
Multiple Czech films have become popular not only in our country but also abroad. This is especially true in the case of many Czech movies originating from the directors who belonged to the Czechoslovakian “New Wave” in 1960s. This filmmaking movement provided a fresh outlook on the world around us and its creators weren’t afraid to stir the still waters of Czechoslovakian cinematography. One of the most popular films of the era is the film Ostře sledované vlaky, known abroad by its English title Closely Watched Trains. Jiří Menzel directed the film and he chose the highly successful short book of the same name (written by Bohumil Hrabal) as his source material.
Closely Watched Trains is the first one of only two Czech films which had ever won an Oscar (the second one is Kolja from 1996). The film’s worldwide premiered took place in October 1966 at an international film festival in Germany. Many people saw the film, only in Czechoslovakia more than 2 million people visited the cinemas to watch it. After the communistic reign gained hold once more, Closely Watched Trains were forbidden for the following 20 years.
However, the communistic ban didn’t diminish the film’s success abroad, and not only in Germany. Besides the film’s Oscar nomination and subsequent victory, the United States also acknowledged Closely Watched Trains in a few different ways. For example, the popular American Time magazine included this film in its list of the one hundred best films ever made. What’s more, the New York Times critics even selected the film as one of the best 10 films of 1967. So even though it takes place in a Czech environment, it spoke to the world thanks to its portrayal of absurdities of everyday life.
Many people have changed the face of the Czech Republic over the years. Rarely any of them however had such an impact on the country as one of its presidents, Václav Havel. Havel first served as a president of Czechoslovakia between the years 1989 and 1992 and later became the first president of the new Czech Republic when he took on the position and held it for 10 years, from 1993 to 2003.
Personal life and background
Václav Havel was born in 1936. He came from a powerful family – his uncle Miloš Havel, for example, built one of the biggest film studios in Europe. Havel studied at the Faculty of Economics but didn’t finish his studies. He married two times. Havel died in 2011 at the age of 75.
Havel was not only a statesman and a president but also an accomplished writer. He mostly wrote theatre plays which could be characterized by its satirical criticism of communism and world in general. His work includes plays such as The Garden Party, The Memorandum and The Audience. He also wrote essays which were connected to his political work, poems and non-fiction books.
Havel has been hugely popular among people. He has been voted the third greatest Czech who has ever lived. He has met many important people, for example Barack Obama and Dalai Lama. He supported the civil rights of each individual. Havel was awarded multiple times for both his political and literary work, he for example received the International Gandhi Peace Prize in 2002. Since his death, a story of his work and influence has been dramatized in film and TV, most notably in the TV show České století (Czech Century).
There are many beautiful places in the Czech Republic. However, the most popular city amongst the countless number of tourists visiting the country is Prague – which also happens to be the capital of the Czech Republic. The city has a rich and colorful history and offers many interesting landmarks to see.
Brief history and important details.
Prague was founded in the 7th century. Its name is derived from a Slavic word práh (ford or threshold). It grew over the course of history and is now a home to more than a million people. It held the position of a most important culture, economical and political centre in Europe multiple times throughout history and it still is one of the most recognized and popular cities visited by thousands of tourists each year coming from all over the world.
Prague has many places worth visiting. Cultural lovers are certain to appreciate the National Theatre with its beautiful architecture or Rudolfinum where Czech Philharmonic Orchestra resides. There are many museums in the city, for example the National Museum or the Jewish Museum. The city is especially lively in summer when it hosts multiple events and festivals.
Prague is very popular because of its architecture. Many buildings in the city have barely changed over the years and its long history makes the city attractive to foreigners. Prague still has a lot of older buildings intact and it therefore often plays a significant part in historical films. Films of all genres have been filmed in Prague, for example Amadeus, Chronicles of Narnia and Van Helsing, to name just a few.
Multiple comedies are filmed each year in the Czech Republic. Czech Made Man, which premiered in 2011, is one of the unorthodox ones.
The film was directed by the young director Tomáš Řehořek (Proměny, Signál). It was supposedly inspired by the life of a real person – an entrepreneur. The story revolves around Jakub Vrána (portrayed by Jan Budař) who eventually builds a successful career and becomes very influential.
The film drew a lot of attention to itself when it was released seven years ago. This was not caused only by Řehořek’s young age when he directed the film (he was merely twenty four at the time) but by its general deliberate modernism both in storytelling and visual side. Czech Made Man is visually very progressive, it makes use of quick camera movements, rapid editing, slow motion, etc., which makes the film highly intriguing to watch and analyze.
As for the story itself, it could be criticized for its episodical nature. The storyline is not very tight and consists of a series of more or less interesting stories from Jakub’s life, from his early childhood all the way to adulthood. Despite its storyline, the film is not a drama, but a very dark comedy. Jakub Vrána is convincingly portrayed by Jan Budař who, while not creating a sympathetic hero, certainly helps to create an interesting one. Occasional jokes and funny Václav Havel’s camero make sure that while Czech Made Man is not the best film ever, it is certainly worth watching.
The story based on true inspirated a lot of czech small starting internet businessmen. Adds on bad spelling domain was very popular in the Czech Republic about 2010. Later young people starts with e-commerce, especially e-shop and affiliate marketing. Nowdays The Czech Republic has still the most eshops per capita in the world. Number of affiliate marketers is also very high. You can find a lot of big affil sites (f.ex epojisteni.cz, biano.cz) and thousands of smaller websites. They usually work as review sites and recommend the best products and services (f. ex. vibratory.org and their multilingual version for Slovak vibratory.org/sk and Hungary vibratory.org/hu show to visitors the best erotic toy on market). But only a few affiliate marketers really can earn serious money. 95% (or more) of affiliate sites are just for fun and hobby.
Of all the Czech artists, who have managed to forge a successful career abroad, Miloš Forman is probably the most remarkable one. Forman has worked as a film director for many years and stands behind a few most recognized films of the twentieth century, such as One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest from 1975 and Amadeus from 1984.
Life story and career
Forman was born in 1932. He left his home country in 1968 when it became clear that the Soviets were about to resume their previous control over Czechoslovakia. Forman studied screenwriting in Prague and made multiple successful Czech films before his arrival to the USA. As for his personal life, Forman was married three times and had four sons. He died after a brief illness in April this year at the age of 86.
For his directing work, Forman received worldwide recognition and various prizes. Most notably, he won the Academy Award for Best Director two times – for the already above mentioned films, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and Amadeus. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest has also joined the short list of films which won Academy Awards in the five main categories (best film, best actor in leading role, best actress in leading role, best director and best screenplay). Amadeus did even better and won eight Academy Awards.
Forman worked on multiple films, both in Czechoslovakia and in the United States. His film Loves of a Blonde (1965) belongs to the recognized Czechoslovakian New Wave. His subsequent Czechoslovakian film The Firemen’s Ball (1967) even further cemented Forman’s reputation as an unique creator with a specific film style and sense of irony.
During his career, Forman has worked with many well-known actors and actresses, such as Jack Nicholson, Colin Firth in Valmont (1989), Jim Carrey in Man on the Moon (1999), Natalie Portman in Forman’s latest big film Goya’s Ghosts (2006) and many, many more. Forman has made a true impact on the film’s history and his work will continue to be watched, talked about and applauded by many film fans all around the world.
Multiple film festivals take place in the Czech Republic, but Karlovy Vary International Film Festival is by far the largest and most prestigious of them. Hundreds of people arrive to Karlovy Vary each year to watch the rich selection of movies, meet another people who love film and to see their favorite director, actors and actresses in real life. The festival takes place at the beginning of July each year.
Brief history of the festival
The festival first took place in 1946. From 1956 onward, it was held biannually and switched with film festival in Moscow. The situation changed after the Velvet Revolution, more specifically in 1994, when Jiří Bartoška and Eva Zaoralová took control of the festival and began organizing it. Since 1994, the festival has been held in Karlovy Vary each year and has grown much more popular in the last twenty four years.
Competition and guests
The festival didn’t include competition at first and it served mainly as an opportunity to view multiple films. The competition was created in 1948. Films and their creators can win multiple prizes, most notably the Crystal Globe.
Karlovy Vary International Film Festival is truly international in the best meaning of the word. Not only does it show films from many countries, but it also welcomes international guests and stars. During its long existence, many famous and remarkable people have visited the festival, such as Claudia Cardinale, Robert De Niro, Mia Farrow, Gregory Peck, Miloš Forman, Michael Douglas, Keira Knightley, Helen Mirren, Susan Sarandon, Mel Gibson, Richard Gere, Jean Reno, Uma Thurman, Jeremy Renner, John Travolta and many others. It is therefore clear the festival is thriving and we can expect many amazing things from it in years to come.
There have been multiple Czech actors across history who have found success abroad. Take Jiří Voskovec, for example, who appeared in one of the most famous film in history – 12 Angry Men. Or Hugo Haas who directed several films in the USA. Karel Roden has starred opposite actors such as Robert De Niro or Rowan Atkinson. But there is a woman who surpassed all of the men mentioned above, and her name is Anny Ondráková (she was also known as Anny Ondra).
Anny Ondráková was born in 1902 (some say 1903). She was a ballet dancer as a child and also did theatre work. She first appeared in a film when she was merely seventeen years old. Although she has acted in multiple Czechoslovakian films, Anny Ondráková found her biggest success abroad. From her Czech filmography, it is important to mention her co-operation with director Karel Lamač and her co-starring role in On a jeho sestra with Vlasta Burian.
Career in Europe
Ondráková begin her career abroad with the Austrian film company Sascha-Film. She spent a part of the 1920s in Austria and German where she repeatedly worked. Her language knowledge helped her significantly in her career – she spoke Czech, German, English and French.
Ondráková’s biggest success came in the late 1920s. Legendary British director Alfred Hitchcock chose her to play a leading part in two of his films, Blackmail and The Manxman. Anny Ondráková is the only Czech artist who had the opportunity to work with Hitchcock. And even though British actress Joan Barry dubbed her part because of Ondráková’s accent, Anny Ondráková still left a significant mark in the history of film. She filmed her last film in 1957 and died thirty years later.