Antonín Kachlík

* 1923  †︎ 2022

  • “I went to see him when he arrived. I took my guitar with me and I told him that when I had been doing forced labour in Germany, I had translated their songs into German and I included some satirical comments in them and when our bosses got drunk, I had to sing these songs for them. What they liked most was the song Executioner and Fool. Thus I met Voskovec and I was coming to visit him in his home and telling him about it. He wanted to create a play about it, but then they had some disagreement with Werich and above all, his French lady wanted to go to America, and so they went there. Our relationship thus came to an end.”

  • “There is nothing wrong with the film, it can be screened anytime. I and the screenwriter and historian Matějka got an assignment from the government and from the Party that we were to create a film about Gottwald for the anniversary. We agreed that we didn’t want to have anything in common with Gottwald, but that if we had to do this, then we would create a film about the time when he was still a good man, not yet corrupted by Moscow, and that was when he won that conflict within the Party in 1929. We thus called the film The Twenty-Ninth, which was when he became the head of Czech leftwing movement. It is about a period in Gottwalds’s life which is still acceptable today.”

  • “That was what we went through when we were nineteen years old, and it was tough before we got used to it. At first we cried and we were unable to do something for a while. Some boys were fainting, and two of them even had to be taken to a mental asylum. They were crying: ‘Mom, I want to go home…’ They just went totally crazy. We thought that there was nothing else to do but to get used to it. After every air raid we were thus pulling burnt corpses from the basements and throwing them onto trucks as if they were bags, and the trucks were taking them away. It was happening every day. There was an air raid in Holland at half past ten, and we immediately had to put on our boots and everything and off we went…”

  • “(The main character) is both the narrator and the actor at the same. It was Milan’s idea. He said: ‘Hey, we will try this, nobody has ever done it before. He will be talking about himself and commenting upon it at the same time’ We will do it this way and it will be something special. And it was, because nobody has done it like this again.”

  • “Once I saved him from trouble, because they wanted to expel him from the Party. At that time, everybody had to be a Party member. They wanted to expel him and I laid down my Party ID card on the table and said: (I am a war member of the Party and I support Kundera. If you expel him, you can take my ID card here as well.’ They all got scared and they did not expel him. Kundera then came to me and said: ‘Not everybody would have done it.’ We grew closer after that. I was coming to see him in Brno, and he introduced me to Trefulka, and this way I thus got to know these people from Brno.”

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    Praha, 14.12.2014

    duration: 04:51:56
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
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All my life I have been in the position of a defender, I have never been attacking anyone

Antonín Kachlík as a young man
Antonín Kachlík as a young man
photo: soukromý archiv pamětníka

Antonín Kachlík was born in Rozdělov (now Kladno-Rozdělov) on February 26, 1923. He grew up in Malá Dobrá until 1931 when the whole family moved to Prague. He thus got a chance for between education at the trade academy in Prague-Karlín. During the war he was involved in illegal resistance activities and he was distributing leftist pamphlets. He graduated in 1942, and since he did not manage to find a job, he had to report for conscripted labour in Germany on October 1, 1942. He worked as a member of a fire fighting squad in the Ruhr Valley, where the Allies were conducting devastating air raids. He took part in salvaging the cathedral in Cologne. Antonín used his permission for a leave as an opportunity to escape. Until the end of the war he lived in Prague with false documents and he continued with illegal resistance activities. At that time he also became a member of the Communist Party. After the war he studied the College of Political and Social Sciences. In 1946 he applied for studies at the Film Academy (FAMU) and he left the College. He graduated from FAMU in 1950, and since it was not possible for him to start working in the State Film Company in Barrandov, he went to Zlín to work as a dramaturgist in the Workers’ Theatre there. While in Zlín, he authored numerous new texts in the social realism style. In 1952-1954 he did his basic military service. At that time he also married actress Kvěra Houdlová. It took him longer time before he was able to start making films. At first he began working as an assistant director and he worked alongside directors Josef Mach and Bořivoj Zeman. His debut came in 1961 with a film based on his own screenplay which was called The June Days. This was followed by his own film There Were Ten of Us. He also published both of these screenplays as books. Antonín Kachlík is also the director of the well-acclaimed film I, the Mournful God from 1969 based on the story by Milan Kundera, which later became banned. During the normalization era he directed a biographical film about the communist leader Klement Gottwald called The Twenty-Ninth, for which he is still being criticised even today. Since that time his name has been also registered in the list of collaborators with the StB State Police. After 1988 Kachlík no longer worked as a film director. In 1971-1992 he was teaching at FAMU. He wrote and published a total of five books, the last one in 2003. This was the never-filmed screenplay How Schweik Was Born and How Hašek Died, which is based on a hypothesis that Jaroslav Hašek was poisoned in Lipnice by members of the Russian White Army. Antonín Kachlík passed away on April, the 20th, 2022.