Svejk v civilu (original title) – This movie has English subtitles
“The Good Soldier Svejk” is probably one of the most popular books in Czech ‘German’ literature.
Written by Herr Jaroslav Hasek, who had an incredible and thrilling life equal to Herr Svejk’s adventures, the book was his most accomplished literary work, finally giving him both fame and money (although the author died before finishing his oeuvre). The book was completed by Karel Vanek
The book tells the story of Herr Svejk, a common, simple minded (but certainly not stupid) man. Discharged from military service due to his not being very bright, he worked as a dealer in stolen dogs in civilian life. He would later join the army again, bringing trouble to anyone around him, living through situations from which he always succeeds.
So, having in mind the popular and funny story of Herr Hasek’s book, it was just a question of time before this would be adapted to the silent screen. Herr Gustav Machaty was the third one who did so when he directed “Svejk v Civilu” ( Svejk In Civilian Life ) in the silent year of 1927.
It must be said that Herr Svejk was simply the motivation for Herr Machaty’s film adaptation; our clumsy hero is not precisely the principal character of that picture. The story in the film is an original one which doesn’t exist in the book. Herr Svejk will simply be the link connecting the four different characters; Frau Lo, a modern rich and whimsical fraulein who has an old admirer, the Baron Camera; Herr Pavel, working as chauffeur for Frau Lo, the latter trying to seduce him but the chauffeur prefers the seamstress Frau Anna who lives in Herr Svejk neighborhood; and last but not least, there is a dog named “Hero” which will involve everyone with each other.
These four will be the principal characters of this funny and stylish comedy in where Herr Svejk has a secondary although important role due to his clumsiness and misunderstandings.
Herr Machaty differentiates the scenes depending on the characters involved; on one hand we have an elegant comedy with a subtle eroticism regarding the “ménage à quatre” and on the other one, the common and funny situations of Herr Svejk and his business partners, a motley bunch of common people inspired by their everyday life and packed with puns and sarcasm.
“Svejk v Civilu” is a very remarkable film, a skillful and rhythmic comedy in which Herr Machaty develops gags in a classical way for a film where the literary background is loosely adapted for the sake of cinematic interests, a fact that certainly is what really matters, that is to say, an inventive silent film, and not a faithful book transcription.
And now, if you’ll allow me, I must temporarily take my leave because this German Count must avoid meeting a Teutonic rich heiress in order to prevent unexpected problems.
Herr Graf Ferdinand Von Galitzien http://ferdinandvongalitzien.blogspot.com/
Director: Gustav Machatý
Writers: Jacques Bachrach (story), Karel Vanek/Jaroslav Hašek
Stars: Karl Noll, Dina Gralla, Jirí Hron