The Salt Prince

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The Salt Prince
Sol nad zlato (The Salt Prince).png
Theatrical release poster by V. Vavrek
German Soľ nad zlato, Der Salzprinz
Directed by Martin Hollý
Written by
  • Martin Hollý
  • Peter Kováčik
Starring Libuše Šafránková
Karol Machata
Gábor Nagy (actor)
Jozef Kroner
Music by Karel Svoboda
Cinematography Dodo Šimončič
Edited by Maximilián Remeň
Slovenský film Koliba, Omnia film Munchen
Distributed by Slovenská požičovňa filmov Bratislava
Release date
  • February 27, 1983 (1983-02-27)
Running time
85 minutes
Country Czechoslovakia, Germany
Language Slovak

The Salt Prince (Slovak: Soľ nad zlato, Czech: Sůl nad zlato, German: Der Salzprinz, Italian: Il Solto Prinzzo) is a Slovak fairy-tale movie based on a novel by Pavol Dobšinský. The movie's central lesson is that salt, as it is necessary for life, is more precious than gold and emeralds.


Though ostensibly a fairy-tale, The Salt Prince makes several profound and idealistic observations about life and human nature. It also probes into Slovak cultural heritage and values.


The story tells a story about old king Pravoslav who wants to pass his throne on to one of his three daughters. The closest to his heart is the youngest one Maruška, but he wants to confirm his decision by reason not only by feelings, so he follows the advice of court clown to decide according to their confessions of daughterly love towards him and their bridegrooms. At the ceremony of confessions the oldest of the sisters, who loves money and power, pleases father with the confession that she loves him more than gold. Her bridegroom promises power and order to his country. The younger one, who's obsessed with jewellery, confesses that she loves him more than any of expensive jewels. The youngest one Maruška confesses that she loves him more than salt, because salt is inevitable for life. Her bridegroom, the Salt Prince promises love to his daughter prosperity, justice and charity towards his people if he and Maruška will reign. The king is offended by Maruška's confession, because there is enough salt and everybody, even the poor ones have some. The Salt Prince tries to defend Maruška, but her father expels Maruška from his kingdom. While this event is taking place, the King of Nature, the father of Salt Prince appears and utters a curse upon Pravoslav's kingdom. From now on every grain of salt would turn gold. This event would not only influence the kingdom, but also Salt prince, because as his ideas of good, and good will were taken in wrong turn he disappears and is turned into salt pillar in the underworld. Maruška expelled from the country of her father undergoes a journey of finding her lost love Salt prince. She finds the way to the kingdom of Underworld, the kingdom of Salt prince's father.

Meanwhile Pravoslav and his other two daughters enjoy the gold they have, but after a while when the food is dry in taste the two bridegrooms starts quarreling about the money and people of the kingdom strive for an ingredient which makes their bread tasteful. When illnesses start to spread, Pravoslav decides to give up gold and exchange it for salt in the neighboring country. As the carriages with gold cross the border it changes to salt and other way back it returns to the kingdom of Pravoslav it is again gold. After this they recognize that their kingdom is cursed.

After being in the kingdom of the King of Nature (Underworld) Maruška meets group of nymphs who help her to find old wise woman, who should advise her where to look for Salt prince. Here Maruška is given task to prove if she is capable of fighting for her love and if she will resist temptation. She should fill old dry waterwell with water from nearby stream. The waterwell can not be filled and she is desperate, but continues, because of the love she feels. While being exhausted and dirty from work comes some prince with fellows and ask her to marry him. She refuses, because she loves Salt prince. After this event old woman advises her that she has to collect tears of the people from her fathers country, which are concentrated in the underworld meadow of oblivion. After collecting tears, she revives Salt prince whom she marries. As a gift young from the King of the Nature, underworld young couple is given bag from which salt will never run out. They depart from the kingdom of the Underworld to Pravoslavs country, where they give the people salt. Pravoslav passes his crown to them and establishes that to remind the people and make it sure that such story would never repeat people should from that time welcome each stranger not only with bread, but also with salt.


One of the themes is the depiction of old Slovak tradition of welcoming guests with bread and salt. Bread symbolizes utility necessary for life whereas salt symbolizes love and the act of giving, which makes life meaningful. Wisdom stemming from life experience, especially that of common people, as collected by Dobšinský, are featured in the narrative. The state of being lost with ideals, after experiencing crash with reality is shown in the metaphor of the petrified Salt Prince. The ideal of selfless love is shown in the scene where Maruška, does not stop filling the dry well, even when she see no results stemming from her actions. The metaphor of reconciling mistakes is shown in the scene where Maruška collects the tears of the people hurt by her father's mistake on the meadow of forgetting (Oblivion) and uses them to revive the Salt Prince. The metaphor of the curse uttered upon those disregarding and nature, symbolized by Pravoslav's contempt towards salt and the son of the King of Nature (Underworld), shows the damage that man's domination can cause and its consequences when not controlled.


  • "People strive only for gold and now they have it. You can not recognize true gifts of Mother Earth!" King of Nature (Underworld)[1]
  • "Not everywhere can be the waterwell, but it is important to try." Old wise woman (Mother of nymphs)
  • "They fight and kill each other, lead wars, loot the insides of the mother Earth for silly vanity." King of Nature (Underworld)[2]


The film received mixed reviews. Critics said it was overly sad and gloomy. In addition, this version was compared in Czechoslovakia in with the older Czech version of the story Byl jednou jeden král (Once Upon a Time There Was a King) from 1954 which was better received and considered a classic. This version of the film is still played at Christmas in Slovakia.


  • Karol Machata ... King Pravoslav
  • Libuše Šafránková ... Princess Amelia
  • Gábor Nagy ... Salt Prince
  • Ladislav Chudík ... King of Nature (the Underworld)
  • Zuzana Kocúriková ... Princess Vanda
  • Dietlinde Turban ... Princess Barbora
  • Ľubomír Paulovič ... Prince Kazimír
  • Juraj Kukura ... King Norbert
  • Diethard Kirschlechner ... Argonit
  • Jozef Kroner ... clown
  • Viera Strnisková ... Old wise woman (Mother of nymphs)
  • Vlasta Fabiánová ... fostress
  • Tibor Bogdan ... counsellor
  • Anton Šulík ... Chef
  • Ján Kramár ... leader of guards
  • Juraj Paška ... marshal
  • Anton Korenčí ... cashier
  • Milan Kiš ... jeweller
  • Ivan Krivosudský ... gardener
  • Boris Farkaš ... foreign prince
  • Jaroslav Rozsíval ... shopkeeper with salt
  • Helena Húsková ... kingdom's tailor

See also[edit]

External links[edit]