Petr Václav prepares to shoot the ambitious historical biopic Il Boemo
by Martin Kudláč
- Stanley Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon and Miloš Forman’s Amadeus have been cited as references for this “Icarian” story
Petr Václav, currently the most prolific Czech filmmaker, is bracing to shoot the historical drama and biopic Il Boemo (see the news), which has been in development for ten years and follows the life story of Czech composer Josef Mysliveček (1737-1781). The first clapperboard is scheduled to slam in the middle of July, in Italy. The film (which bears the subtitle “More Famous Than Mozart Yet Forgotten”) will follow the story of Mysliveček, who was a friend and a teacher of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and composed 30 operas and ten oratorios as well as symphonies, concertos, ouvertures, and chamber and choir music. Mysliveček stood firm and resisted the wishes of his family, instead becoming a composer. The movie will home in on both his professional and personal life.
Václav says that the script aims to be as authentic as possible, as testimonies about Mysliveček’s life will remain fully intact, while the gaps will be filled with interpretations that will be respectful of the spirit of the time. The intention is for the screenplay to tackle the relationship between art and social order. “Our goal is to help people rediscover an unjustly forgotten composer and his extraordinary music through the story of a Prague native who flourished artistically in Naples and Northern Italy, but also in Munich,” said the writer-director. The leading role of Josef Mysliveček will be played by Russian actor Egor Koreshkov, with opera singers such as Philippe Jaroussky, Emöke Baráth, Filipo Mineccia and Krystian Adam also forming part of the cast. A clutch of Italian actors, Czech thesp Karel Roden and Václav regular (since The Way Out [+see also:
interview: Petr Václav
film profile]) Zdeněk Godla will also be performing in the movie.
Mysliveček’s arias and compositions have been rediscovered after 250 years and will be used as the film’s score, recorded by Collegium 1704 under the conductorship of Václav Luks. Other members of the film crew include scriptwriter Gilles Taurand, DoP Diego Romero, costume designer Andrea Cavaletto, architect Luca Servino and sound designer Daniel Němec. The shoot will take place in theatres in Pavia and Cremona in July, and the crew will move to Genoa and Venice in September. A couple of shooting days will also take place in Prague.
Václav calls Mysliveček’s fate “an Icarian story of the rise and fall of an extraordinary artist”. As part of his preparation process, Václav previously shot a feature-length documentary about Mysliveček, Confession of the Vanished [+see also:
film profile]. The writer-director singles out Stanley Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon and Miloš Forman’s Amadeus as particular cinematic references, the former for the camerawork, lighting and narrative style of a story taking place over a long stretch of time, and the latter for Forman’s casting and the way in which he shot opera scenes and situations depicting the work of a composer and his relationship with music. “Amadeus was a revolutionary film because it took a deconstructed, apologetic and academic look at a famous artist. Thirty-five years after its premiere, with a new protagonist and an Italian setting, we also wish to present an examination of the living conditions of musicians in the 18th century,” Václav remarks.
Il Boemo is being produced by Jan Macola, of Mimesis Film, and co-produced by Czech Television, Slovakian outfit Sentimentalfilm and Italian company Dugong Films. The project, which has a budget estimated to be around 120 million Czech crowns (almost €5 million), was supported by the Czech Film Fund, Creative Europe – MEDIA Development, the French Academy in Rome – Villa Medici, the CNC and the Slovak Audiovisual Fund. The domestic premiere of Il Boemo is scheduled for the end of 2020, with Pilot Film handling the local theatrical release.
Did you enjoy reading this article? Please subscribe to our newsletter to receive more stories like this directly in your inbox.