Mike Cella, also known as Movie Mike, was an extra on the set of Les Miserables. Above is from the Billboard sized ad, the highest resolution image available, and yep, it’s him!
Streets that can pass for Vienna or Paris, along with the technical support of Barrandov Studios and inexpensive costs have lured many production companies to film here. So the next time you stroll down to your favourite hospoda, you may just run into a Hollywood star making anything from an historical drama to sword and sorcery or action movie.
The recent adaptation of Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables (1998, 128m) found Liam Neeson and Geoffrey Rush pitting wits through the cobbled streets of Mala Strana. Throughout this sweeping look at post-revolutionary France, Prague’s identity was carefully hidden, until during the riot scene (filmed at Prague Castle) when Notre Dame suddenly morphs into St. Vitus’ Cathedral.
Amadeus (1984, 158m), the multi Oscar-winning story of Mozart, is another period drama well worth watching. Especially good is the use of the Estates Theatre, used just as Mozart actually did in 1787 for Don Giovanni.
If you like it heavier, see Gary Oldman go deaf while walking through the Wallenstein Gardens in Mala Strana as he portrays Beethoven in Immortal Beloved (1994, 121m).
However, if your thing is Film Noir then check out Kafka (1991, 98m). Jeremy Irons stars in this fictional account of murder and metamorphosis that will pander to those who love nothing more than to amble through the shadows of a Prague night. The film’s stark black and white photography gives many a familiar street and alley an eerie otherworldliness.
Tom Cruise, Jon Voight, Emmanuelle Beart et al steal the show however. With cars exploding, restaurant windows shattering and bodies falling from the Charles Bridge, Mission Impossible (1996, 110m) placed Prague firmly in the minds of the moviegoing public.
Countless times the question has been asked, “where did they shoot Mission Impossible?”. The easiest answer is to go to Na Kampz, point in any direction and say “over there”. Almost all of the Prague shoot was in this area and the rest in Stare Mesto.
So star watchers and film buffs look out, there’s always something being filmed in and around Prague (in the last few years, Plunkett and MacCleane, Messenger – Story of Joan of Arc, From Hell, A Knight’s Tale, Hart’s War, Dungeons and Dragons and many more). In town just now are Gerard Depardieu and John Malkovich. A prize to anyone with embarrassing photos of their stay!
The Alchemist of the Surreal, Jan Svankmejer
Five works of the master Czech animator, showing his use of a wide assortment of techniques and crafts. Dimensions of dialogue (1982, 12 min) – The last trick (1964, 12 min) – Punch and Judy (1966, 8 min) – Et cetera (1966, 8 min) – Jabberwocky (1971, 14 min). Text in English and Czech; some Czech text has English subtitles.
An Everyman lured off the streets of Prague finds himself becoming Faust and entering a world of mind-boggling magic and strange encounters. He summons up Mephisto, makes his awful pact and is plunged into a world of laughing devils, dreams and nightmares.
Written and directed by influential animator Jan Svankmejer; live action is merged with stop-motion and claymation animation Originally filmed in Czech.
Jan Svankmejer: the animator of Prague
The Czech master animator, Jan Svankmajer, is filmed at work on his film Death of Stalinism in Bohemia, while the ideas and motivations that have driven his earlier films, scenes from which are included here, are explored. Death of Stalinism in Bohemia is included in its entirety.
Oratorio for Prague
Begun as a relaxed documentary about the liberalization of Czechoslovakia, this Jan Nemec production became the only filmed record of the Soviet invasion of 1968. It’s an excellent contrast, providing before and after invasion footage, and features scenes from the last night at a disco before the Soviet invasion.
Adam is a young farmer. As a child, fleeing a bleak reality of his mother’s life as a prostitute, he tumbles from a mountain and is mentally injured. Years later, his mother is dying, and he sells their only cow to pay for medicine. Rosa, fleeing the sexual exploitation of a wealthy butcher, climbs to the top of the mountain and begins living with Adam. In Czech with English subtitles.