Marketa Lazarová

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Marketa Lazarová
Marketa Lazarova film poster 1967 Czech film.jpg
Directed by František Vláčil
Produced by Josef Ouzký
Written by Screenplay:
František Pavlíček
František Vláčil
Vladislav Vančura
Starring Magda Vášáryová
Josef Kemr
František Velecký
Naďa Hejná
Jaroslav Moučka
Music by Zdeněk Liška
Cinematography Bedřich Baťka
Edited by Miroslav Hájek
Distributed by Ústřední půjčovna filmů
Release dates Czechoslovakia:
6 October 1967
United States:
30 August 1974
Running time 162 minutes
Country Czechoslovakia
Language Czech

Marketa Lazarová (1967) is a Czechoslovak historical film directed by František Vláčil. It is an adaptation of the novel Marketa Lazarová (1931) by Vladislav Vančura. The movie takes place in an indeterminate time during the Middle Ages, and tells the story of a daughter of a feudal lord who is kidnapped by neighbouring robber knights and becomes a mistress of one of them.

Marketa Lazarová was voted the all-time best Czech movie in a prestigious 1998 poll of Czech film critics and publicists.[1][2]

Theodor Pištěk designed the costumes for the film.


The movie opens with two brothers, Mikoláš and one-armed Adam, along with a small group of men, ambushing a wagon and men traveling on a country road in the middle of winter. The attackers massacre most of the travelers, one escapes, Mikoláš chases and captures one and his men capture another. The man who escaped, a Saxon aristocrat, turns out to be the new Bishop of Hennau and a close ally of the local king. The two captives are the Bishop's son and his assistant. When Mikoláš returns to the site of the ambush, he finds a group of scavengers, led by Lazar, a neighbor of Mikoláš's, stripping the dead. Mikoláš' first impulse is to kill Lazar, but spares him after Lazar prays to Christ to forgive Mikoláš. Mikoláš returns to his village where his father, Kozlík, is the clan patriarch. Kozlík becomes furious at Mikoláš for allowing a man to escape, for bringing home two captives and for allowing Lazar to live. When Mikoláš explains that he took the captives for ransom, his father asks him if he intends to travel to Saxony to claim the ransom or if Mikoláš intends to invite the Saxons to bring their army to their small clan village.

In the next scene, Kozlík, chased by wolves, is running through deep snow back to the village. It turns out the king had summoned him to the capital. When Kozlík arrived, the king's captain had attempted to take Kozlík into custody, but Kozlík attacked the captain and fled. The narrator explains the captain was previously a merchant who brewed his own beer. Therefore, people call him Captain Pivo (Beer). The king then orders the Captain to take a regiment to rescue the Bishop's son and to punish Kozlík and his family. Anticipating the attack, the family abandons its village and moves deeper into the forest. As they pack, Mikoláš visits Lazar to request an alliance with him against the king. He suggests the two clans could ambush and massacre the regiment. Marketa now enters the story. She is Lazar's virginal, naïve daughter, destined by her father to become a nun. Marketa is horrified to see her father and his men attack and brutally beat Mikoláš after refusing to ally with him against the king. After beating Mikoláš, Lazar allows him to leave. When Mikoláš arrives home, his father sends a small group of men back to Lazar's to take vengeance against him for beating Mikoláš. When they arrive at Lazar's village, they realize the Captain and his regiment have already arrived. Therefore, they begin to return to Kozlík, but not before killing the Captain's right-hand-man who attempted to single-handedly attack them in a fool-hardy charge.

In the next scene, Lazar and his daughter Marketa visit the nunnery. Lazar has failed to bring the required amount of money to allow Marketa to take vows, so they return home. When they enter the village, they find Mikoláš and his men have captured the village. They kill Lazar's mentally disabled son, kidnap Marketa and nail Lazar in a crucifixion pose to the village door. When Mikoláš and his men return to the family's forest stronghold, Mikoláš rapes Marketa then protects her against his father's attempt to torture her with shoes filled with inward-pointing nails. At the same time, a romance has developed between the Bishop's son, Kristián, who is still a captive, and Kozlík's daughter Alexandra. Earlier in the movie, it was revealed that Alexandra had an affair with her brother Adam. During sex, a viper had bitten Adam's arm and the venom was slowly killing him. This led to Kozlík chopping off his son's arm. By this time in the movie, Alexandra's affections had moved to Kristián who has impregnated her. All of this defiance of Kozlík leads him to chain Mikoláš, Marketa, Alexandra and Kristián together and banish them to the hill outside of the fortress stockade. When the Captain and his regiment arrives at the fortress, Kozlík allows the four back inside. In a series of fragmented flashbacks and flash forwards, the movie reveals that after an initial, ill-considered attack was repulsed, the Captain mounted a second attack which succeeded. Kristián thinks he sees Alexandra killed by dogs. He goes insane and begins to wander the country-side. Marketa attempts to return home, but her father, who survived the attempted crucifixion, rejects her. Mikoláš escapes and Kozlík is taken captive to the king's castle. Marketa reunites with Mikoláš, whom she now loves and who has impregnated her. Alexandra, who actually survived, comes across the insane Kristián whom she kills by crushing his head with a rock. The Captain's men find her mourning Kristián's death and arrest her. At the same time, Mikoláš mounts an unsuccessful attempt to free his father from the castle dungeon. Marketa goes to take orders in the nunnery, but leaves during the ceremony to rejoin Mikoláš who is dying from wounds suffered in the ill-fated rescue attempt. The Captain marries Mikoláš and Marketa in an abbreviated ceremony held in the dirt of the castle courtyard. The Captain's men then take Mikoláš and his father Kozlík to their executions. At the end of the movie, Marketa wanders the countryside as the narrator explains that both she and Alexandra had sons. According to the narrator, Marketa nursed both, implying that Alexandra was executed after she gave birth to her son.


Video release[edit]

The film was released by the Criterion Collection in 2012.


  1. ^ "TOP 10 CESKO-SLOVENSKEHO HRANEHO FILMU". Mestska kina Uherske Hradiste (in Czech). 1998. Archived from the original on 2 October 1999. 
  2. ^ Marketa Lazarová on (in Czech)

External links[edit]