Birds, Orphans and Fools

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Birds, Orphans and Fools
Birds, Orphans and Fools poster.jpg
Directed by Juraj Jakubisko
Produced by
Written by
Music by Zdeněk Liška
Cinematography Igor Luther
Edited by
Release date
  • September 27, 1969 (1969-09-27) (Czechoslovakia)
Running time
78 minutes
Country Czechoslovakia
Language Slovak

Birds, Orphans and Fools (Slovak: Vtáčkovia, siroty a blázni) is a 1969 Czechoslovak film directed by Juraj Jakubisko. The film is about three people who are all orphaned by political violence.[1] Set in an unspecified time and place, the movie is a parable about three people who face a tough, violent world and survive by adopting a childlike philosophy of life and live a life of foolish, joyful denial.

The film was released in 1969 and was shown that year at an international film festival in Sorrento, Italy. Soon after, though, the film was banned by the Soviet regime until the end of 1989.[1][2]


The main characters, Yorick, Martha and Ondrej, exist in a bleak, cynical world. All of them have been orphaned during a war. To survive, they adopt a childlike philosophy where they live in love and joy, and seem to be immune to despair.[3][4] "Life is beautiful," screams the main characters.

The trio live with birds in a surrealistic, bombed church in the center of a city. At first it seems that they are all enjoying their lighthearted play. Foolishness is a drug. Or, as Yorick says, "only a fool can be a free man."

The key struggle is the relationship of the two men to Martha. Yorick develops a relationship with Martha quickly. Ondrej, a virgin, has a harder time getting close to Martha, not withstanding prodding by Yorick. In an odd move, Yorick has himself arrested and is sent to jail for a year during which time Martha and Ondrej's relationship develops.[4]

Each of the characters in the film goes through a long internal development. The most apparent is that of Yorick, who after returning from prison, "lost the courage to be crazy". Ondrej seems to find passion in his love of Martha.

Jealous of Ondrej and Martha's relationship incites Yorick to murder to Martha and her unborn baby and then commit suicide. Ondrej's fate remains unknown.

Political subtext[edit]

The film is made soon after the Soviet invasion of Prague.[5] In the movie the main characters are living in an enchanted world of love, joy and freedom, but in fact, they are not free. The world is dismal and lacking the freedom that they pretend to enjoy.[3] As Jakubisko is quoted as saying: "Foolish games and death are cruel. Maybe too cruel. When I shot my fiction in 1968 there were people lying on the sidewalks. They didn’t have to fake death."[5]


Birds, Orphans and Fools was made in 1969 and had a limited release before it was banned. It would be 20 years before the Soviet ban of the film was lifted with the end of the Soviet Regime. The film was censured for its negative, hopeless and non-socialist content. When it finally debuted at the 1990 film festival it was met with resounding approval and success.[2] Birds, Orphans and Fools came out in 2009 in a DVD edition.

The production staff includes:[4][6]

  • Director: Juraj Jakubisko
  • Screenwriters: Karol Sidon, Juraj Jakubisko
  • Photography: Igor Luther
  • Architect: Anton Krajčovič
  • Costume designers: Milena Doskočová, Helena Pale
  • Editor: Maximilian Remeň
  • Production Managers: Jan Svikruha, Jan Tomaskovic

Both the exterior and interior scenes were filmed in Slovakia. The movie was filmed in Bratislava, Piestany and Bradlo.

The movie was produced by Slovenská filmová tvorba, Bratislava, Czechoslovakia and Como Film Paris, France.[5]


  • Magda Vášáryová - Martha
  • Jiri Sykora - Yorick
  • Philippe Avron - Ondrej
  • Mila Beran - the domestic man
  • Francoise Goldité - Saša



  1. ^ a b "Affordable Hosting Plans - Dedicated Web Support | Lunarpages Web Hosting". Retrieved 2014-04-22. 
  2. ^ a b c Hames, Peter. (2004). Cinema of Central Europe. London: Wallflower Press. p. 171. ISBN 978-1904764205.
  3. ^ a b c "Birds, Orphans and Fools - Kaunas International Film Festival". Retrieved 2014-04-22. 
  4. ^ a b c "World Cinema Directory". World Cinema Directory. Retrieved 2014-04-22. 
  5. ^ a b c "Birds, orphans and fools | Jakubisko Film s.r.o". 1969-09-27. Retrieved 2014-04-22. 
  6. ^ "Vtackovia-Siroty-a-Blazni - Cast, Crew, Director and Awards -". Retrieved 2014-04-22. 
  7. ^ "Karlovy Vary International Film Festival - Karlovy Vary IFF Honours Two Jubilee Celebrants". Retrieved 2014-04-22. 

External links[edit]