New Jan Palach Biopic Begins Filming in Prague
In August of 1968, the artistic and cultural movement known as Prague Spring came to a crashing end with the Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia that saw Soviet tanks infamously roll through the capital’s streets.
Several months later, Czech University student Jan Palach committed suicide by self-immolation to protest the Invasion by setting himself on fire atop Wenceslas Square.
Next summer will mark the 50th anniversary of the oppressive end to Prague Spring, and a new biography about Palach is scheduled for release to coincide with the anniversary.
Titled Jan Palach, the film will be directed by Robert Sedláček, known for his features Pravidla lži, Největší z Čechů, and Rodina je základ státu. The movie is a co-production between Cineart TV Prague and Czech Television.
The is the second high-profile project to focus on Palach in recent years, following Agnieszka Holland’s award-winning HBO miniseries Hořící keř (Burning Bush).
But while that series focused on the aftermath of Palach’s suicide and the lawsuit against his family by the communist government, this new film will cover the intimate final months of Palach’s life, and the devastating plan he kept hidden from those he knew.
Stage actor Viktor Zavadil will portray Palach, with Zuzana Bydžovská as his mother, Denisa Barešová as his girlfriend, Michal Balcar as his brother, and Jan Vondráček as his professor.
According to local news server iDnes.cz, filming will commence in Prague this weekend with exterior shots depicting the August 1968 Invasion.
If you happen to be in the city on Saturday, you’ll be able to spot Soviet tanks and period-era trams outside Prague’s Rudolfinum and nearby Mánes Bridge.
On September 3, Pardubice’s Pernštýnské náměstí will be transformed into Prague’s Wenceslas Square for filming of the fateful self-immolation scene. Shooting will continue in Prague and other locations through the end of the year.
Lead photo: Viktor Zavadil as Palach via Cineart TV Prague