Ester Krumbachová

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Ester Krumbachová
Ester Krumbachova.jpg
Born(1923-11-12)12 November 1923
Died13 January 1996(1996-01-13) (aged 72)
OccupationScreenwriter, Costume Designer
Years active1961–1996
Spouse(s)Slavíček Písařík
Jan Němec
(m. 1963⁠–⁠1968)

Ester Krumbachová (12 November 1923 – 13 January 1996) was a Czech screenwriter, costume designer, stage designer, author and director. She is known for her contributions to Czech New Wave cinema in the 1960s, including collaborations with directors Věra Chytilová and Jan Němec. In 2017, a private archive of Krumbachová's artwork, photography, documents, and clothes was made public by curators Edith Jeřábková and Zuzana Blochová. Krumbachová has since been the subject of retrospective exhibitions at TRANZITDISPLAY in Prague (2017),[1] and the Centre for Contemporary Arts in Glasgow (2018).[2]

Early life[edit]

Ester Krumbachová was born in Brno, Czechoslovakia in 1923. She went to college and worked on local theater productions in České Budějovice before moving to Prague in the early 1960s.[3] She began to work in the film industry in 1961.[4]


She worked as a costume designer on the film Diamonds of the Night (1964), directed by her husband Jan Němec; this was her first collaboration with Němec.[5] Her first addition to a script was on Zbyněk Brynych's Holocaust film The Fifth Horseman is Fear (1965). However, this credit is masked by her only being listed the film's costume designer.[4] Her major script contribution was on the screenplay for Němec's A Report on the Party and the Guests (1966).[6] The film is based on a novella by Krumbachová.[5] Eventually, she would be banned from film making because of her involvement with A Report on the Party and the Guests.[3]

In 1966, she worked on Daisies[6]: 124  as a costume designer and writer; this was her first screenplay with Věra Chytilová, a long time collaborator. She would work on two more films with Chytilová, Fruit of Paradise (1970) and Faunovo velmi pozdní odpoledne (1983).[4]

Krumbachová's next collaboration with Němec was on the film Martyrs of Love (1967) which was described as being "less political in nature" than A Report on the Party and the Guests and more "arbitrary and obscure in its details."[7] In 1968, after the Prague Spring she worked on Fruit of Paradise, an avant garde adaptation of the Adam and Eve story, with Chytilová. in 1969, Krumbachová began to write The Murder of Mr.Devil with Němec; this would be the only film she would direct. Veteran Czech filmmaker Otakar Vávra consulted Krumbachová on his 1970 film Witchhammer. She adapted Valerie and Her Week of Wonders [6]: 128  from the novel of the same name with Czech director Jaromil Jireš in the same year. In 1983 she worked on two films, Faunovo velmi pozdní odpoledne which was her last colabortation with Chytilová, and Strata, a New Zealand film. Krumbachová published a book První knížka Ester (The First Book of Ester) in 1994.[4]


Much of Krumbachová's work has been overlooked, despite her influence on the Czech New Wave.[4]

In Jan Němec's film Late Talks with My Mother (2001), she appears as one of the people Němec talks to.[8][9]

In 2005, Věra Chytilová directed the documentary In Search of Ester about Krumbachová's life and involvement in the Czech New Wave.

Krumbachová was the subject of the retrospective exhibition A Weakness for Raisins: Films and Archives of Ester Krumbachovà at the CCA: Centre for Contemporary Arts in Glasgow. The exhibition presented elements of Krumbachovà's personal archives to explore themes of "agency, magic, materialism, gender, feminism, the interconnected nature of reality, and sensory forms of knowledge."[2] The exhibition also featured contemporary artists whose work has been influenced by Krumbachová, including ACID PRAWN (Sian Dorrer), Marek Meduna, Sally Hackett and France-Lise McGurn.

Personal life and death[edit]

She was briefly married to architect Slavíček Písařík [4]) before marrying Czech director Jan Němec in 1963; they divorced in 1968.[10] Němec described her as his "muse".[11]

Krumbachová died in 1996 in Prague.


As writer

As costume designer

As director


  • První knížka Ester (The First Book of Ester) (1994) ISBN 9788085625363


  1. ^ "ESTER KRUMBACHOVÁ Yeti – Wear the Amulet – Tangle Up the Archive (opening 13. 12., 6pm) | TRANZITDISPLAY". Retrieved 2019-05-07.
  2. ^ a b Glasgow, C. C. A. "A Weakness for Raisins !! Films & Archive of Ester Krumbachová | Programme CCA". Retrieved 2019-05-07.
  3. ^ a b Fraňková, Ruth (January 1, 2009). "Ester Krumbachová – costume designer who left her mark on Czech New Wave". Český rozhlas. Retrieved 29 November 2015.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Sorfa, David. Women Screenwriters: An International Guide (1st ed.). Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire ; New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 9781137312365.
  5. ^ a b Hames, Peter (May 14, 2007). "Enfant Terrible of the Czech New Wave". Central Europe Review. 3 (17). Archived from the original on 9 June 2012. Retrieved 29 November 2015.
  6. ^ a b c Bingham, Adam (2011). Directory of world cinema. Volume 8, East Europe. Bristol: Intellect. p. 127. ISBN 9781841504643.
  7. ^ Canby, Vincent (February 4, 1969). "Martyrs of Love (1967) Screen: Nemec's 'Martyrs of Love'". New York Times. Retrieved 29 November 2015.
  8. ^ Košuličová, Ivana (May 14, 2001). "The Free Expression of Spirit Jan Němec's conception of "pure film" in his post-1989 works". Central Europe Review. 3 (17). Retrieved 29 November 2015.
  9. ^ Hames, Peter (2009). Czech and Slovak cinema : theme and tradition. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. p. 158. ISBN 9780748629268.
  10. ^ Levy, Adam (August 21, 2003). "Jan Nemec: An enfant terrible at 67". Monroe Luther. The Prague Post s.r.o. Archived from the original on 8 December 2015. Retrieved 28 November 2015.
  11. ^ Košuličová, Ivana (May 14, 2001). "Everything You Always Wanted to Know about My Heart... An interview with film director Jan Němec". Central Europe Review. 3 (17). Archived from the original on 22 March 2016. Retrieved 29 November 2015.

Further reading[edit]

  • Petra Hanáková (2014). "The feminist style in Czechoslovak Cinema: the feminine imprint of Vera Chytilová and Ester Krumbachová". The Politics of Gender Culture Under State Socialism: An Expropriated Voice. Routledge, New York. ISBN 9780415720830.

External links[edit]