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24 May 2019 - 27 May 2019

The Murder of Mr. Devil - Ester Krumbachová: Unknown Master of the Czechoslovak New Wave

Czech Center New York and Film at Lincoln Center present the work of the Czech costume and set designer, scriptwriter, and director Ester Krumbachová.


Friday, May 24, 7PM (for tickets click here)
Monday, May 27, 4:30PM (for tickets click here)
Francesca BealeTheater at Lincoln Center

SPECIAL OFFER: Enjoy $3 off tickets to Film at Lincoln Center's Ester Krumbachova retrospective—tickets just $12. To redeem: Select the desired showtime at filmlinc.org/krumbachova and enter promo code “Czech2019" in the upper right box.

Director: Ester Krumbachová, 1970, 72 min, Czechoslovakia

Screenwriter and costume designer Ester Krumbachová entered the world of film directing just once, to create The Murder of Mr. Devil. The main reason why the highly original film remained her only motion picture was the cruel onslaught of post-1968 “normalisation” in the country. The author, who imbued numerous films of the Czechoslovak New Wave with a dynamic visual character through her visual designs, showed an affinity with the spirit of the 1960s through her scripts for Daisies (1966), Fruit of Paradise (1969) and Valerie and Her Week of Wonders (1970). With the help of veteran screenwriter Jan Němec, Krumbachová also penned the script for Vražda ing. Čerta. The film is a complete and mature debut that includes the period’s feminism, fortified with a peculiar form of sinister criticism with which Krumbachová targets both sexes, much as did another female director, Věra Chytilová. The nameless central character of the narrative, a pretty, clever and refined fortysomething, referred to simply as She, strives to escape her loneliness through an association with Bohouš Čert (whose surname means “Devil”), a friend from her youth. However, he is not as she had remembered him: the slim youth has become an overweight, ill-mannered man whose prominent trait is excessive voracity (closely followed by excessive garrulity). She endures Čert’s visits only by holding on to the vision of an eventual marriage to which she is willing to sacrifice her own dignity. When it emerges that the insatiable glutton – who can’t resist taking bites out of furniture legs – is indeed the devil himself, She is forced to do away with the interloper with the help of a bag of raisins… Though Krumbachová contributed to numerous highly intellectual films of the 1960s, her film is a mannerist play about the battle of the sexes, depicting with ornamental flourishes the incompatibility of men and women. The main characters are mere pieces on a chessboard, but they come alive through masterful acting by Jiřina Bohdalová and Vladimír Menšík. (National Film Archive)









Though Ester Krumbachová was considered by director Věra Chytilová to be the boldest personality of the Czechoslovak New Wave, her contributions to the movement have been largely overlooked. A costume and set designer, scriptwriter, and director, the multi-hyphenate artist shared her puckishly surreal and trenchant, radical vision with such trailblazing directors as Chytilová (Daisies), Karel Kachyňa (The Ear), Jaromil Jireš (Valerie and Her Week of Wonders), and Jan Němec (Diamonds of the Night). But shortly after making her directorial debut with the hilarious yet criminally underseen fantasy The Murder of Mr. Devil, she was blacklisted by the Czechoslovak Communist government. This May, the Czech Center New York looks back on Krumbachová’s singular imprint on the Czechoslovak New Wave, and reexamines some of the movements’ most beloved, important works in a new light. Presented in collaboration with the Film at Lincoln Center.



The Ear

Fruit of Paradise

All My Compatriots

Diamonds of the Night

Valerie and Her Week of Wonders

The Fifth Horseman Is Fear

Coach to Vienna

Long Live the Republic!




Francesca Beale Theater, Lincoln Center


From: 24 May 2019
To: 27 May 2019


Czech Center is a coorganizer of the event

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