February 28, 1911|
Hradec Králové, Austria-Hungary
September 15, 2011 (aged 100)|
Prague, Czech Republic
Otakar Vávra was a Czech film director, screenwriter and pedagogue.
Vávra attended universities in Brno and Prague, where he studied architecture. During 1929-30, while still a student, he participated in the making of a handful of documentaries and wrote movie scripts. In 1931, he produced the experimental films The Light Penetrates the Dark (Světlo proniká tmou, 1931), followed by We Live in Prague (Žijeme v Praze, 1934), and November (Listopad, 1935).
His first feature film was 1938's Cech panen Kutnohorských, starring Zorka Janů, sister of legendary Czech actress Lída Baarová. Janů also played in Vávra's films Podvod s Rubensem and Pacientka Dr. Hegela, both from 1940. Baarová starred in Vávra's films Panenství (1937), Maskovaná milenka (1939), Dívka v modrém (1939), and Turbína (1941).
After the Communists came to power in 1948, Vávra adapted quickly to the new political climate and produced films praising the current regime and supporting the new, official interpretation of the past.
In the 1950s he produced the "Hussite Trilogy", one of his most famous works, consisting of Jan Hus (1954), Jan Žižka (1955) and Proti všem (Against All Odds, 1957).
In the 1950s, Otakar Vávra, together with a group of fellow Czech film directors, established the Film Faculty of the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague (FAMU), where he taught for over five decades. Among his students were several directors of the 1960s Czechoslovak New Wave, including Miloš Forman, Jiří Menzel, Věra Chytilová, and Emir Kusturica.
When the government became more liberal in the 1960s, Vávra's cinema entered into his most prolific period, directing Zlatá reneta (1965), Kladivo na čarodějnice (1969), and later Komediant (1984). Vávra's most acclaimed work, Romance pro křídlovku (1966), is a black-and-white film based on a poem by Czech lyrical poet František Hrubín and concerns an ill-fated summer romance between two young lovers of different backgrounds.
When the Communists fell from power in 1989, state subsidies for the film industry were dropped and Vávra's plans for an historical epic titled Evropa tančila valčík had to be scaled down.
He directed fifty-two feature films.
- Experimental films
- Světlo proniká tmou (Light Penetrating Darkness) (1931)