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Slovak Studies Program

Martin Votruba

 

Rosy Dreams

Ružové sny

 

 

Despite its whimsical poetic style, Rosy Dreams (Ružové sny; available with subtitles in Hillman Library) was the first Central European feature film that put the Romani (Gypsy) community at the center stage in a realistic manner. It was also a singular artistic achievement in Slovak and Czechoslovak cinema during the intensely repressive period after the Soviet invasion of 1968 by Dušan Hanák, director of several acclaimed films who maintained the integrity of his vision and style throughout the vagaries of Central European filmmaking in the second half of the 20th century. In a broader sense, Rosy Dreams was prescient in Central European cinema because it dealt with a minority group whose plight, not discussed openly then, has since become one of the key issues in several Central European societies. The clash of the communities is depicted with an enhanced quasi-detached involvement inherited from the Czechoslovak New Wave of the 1960s.
Film release
The authorities permitted Rosy Dreams to be distributed only in limited release. It received the Czechoslovak Critics' Award for 1976 and the Czech and Slovak Film Festival's Audience Award in Bratislava in 1977. It became the only Slovak film made in the repressive 1970s that was shown abroad. Rosy Dreams has remained Dušan Hanák's most popular film. When it was released on VHS after the collapse of communism in Central Europe, it became a particular favorite with the Romani community in Slovakia and the Czech Republic.
Plot summary
Jakub (Juraj Nvota), a dreamy mailman in a sleepy village, spends his days playing pranks on everyone, resenting his father (Anton Trón) with his mother’s (Hana Slivková) tacit support, and admiring Jolana (Iva Bittová) from the neighboring Romani hamlet – until Jolana responds. Faced with mistrust from both Jakub’s and Jolana’s families and venom from segments of their communities, Jakub pulls one more, grave prank that, he imagines, will help support the two teenagers as they take the train to the nearby city in order to live together.
Yet, not only does Jakub’s prank – a theft of money from the post office – catch up with him, but it turns out that the two of them have conflicting dreams about life. Jakub has dreamed up an urban version of the stereotypical fantasy of a free-spirited Gypsy life with Jolana, whereas she has dreamed of a grounded life away from her troubled community and applies herself to achieve that. While Jakub goes from fantasy to prison to fantasy, Jolana gets a steady job and begins to realize that Jakub is no more her fantasy of a down-to-earth Gojo (non-Rom) than she is his “Gypsy woman.”
As Jolana, back in the Romani hamlet, celebrates her wedding to her persistent Romani suitor Vojto (Ján Žiga) and Jakub returns to his parents for more idle dreams, a Romani woman, the Town Hall administrator Irena (Sally Salingová), and a Slovak man, the Town Hall maintenance man and volunteer firefighter Ondro (Milan Kiš), a more mature couple from a subsidiary plot, are getting married too.
Screenplay
The screenplay was Hanák's joint project with the writer Dušan Dušek (b. 1946). A graduate in natural history and geology, Dušek later became professor of screenwriting at the University of Performing Arts in Bratislava. The two wrote the screenplay during 1974-1975. The authorities delayed the shooting of Rosy Dreams for a year, because Hanák and Dušek refused to rewrite it with a socially optimistic ending that would have the two main characters getting married. Both authors did research in Romani settlements and fashioned their script accordingly. They hired Professor of Romani Studies Milena Hübschmannová (1933-2005) as consultant, who also helped with the Romani dialogues. Parts of the film were shot on location at Trhovište, an actual Romani village, with all-Romani extras.
Director
Dušan Hanák (1938, Bratislava) graduated from the FAMU (Film and TV School of the Academy of Performing Arts) in Prague in 1965. He began with a series of shorts (available with subtitles in Hillman Library) at the Koliba film studios in Bratislava. Several of them received awards, and so did his first feature film 322 (the code for cancer in medical records of diseases, 1969; available with subtitles in Hillman Library).
Hanák followed it with the still admired feature-length documentary Pictures of the Old World (Obrazy starého sveta, 1972; available with subtitles in Hillman Library), partly a meditation on what lies hidden beneath the concept of "an authentic life," a theme already addressed in 322. Although Hanák was treated with suspicion by the more repressive communist authorities that took over after the Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia, he found an early refuge in a topic sufficiently removed from big politics to survive on the margins of official production, and yet sufficiently non-conformist and enamored with village life to please especially the chic audiences. Part of its additional attraction within the context of communist Czechoslovakia rested on the fact that it offered snapshots from the lives of several highlanders, whose very existence belied official claims of equal wealth for everyone. Good reviews or not, Pictures of the Old World was ordered shelved after two days of informal shows. Despite the authorities' surly take on Hanák's films, his next venture, Rosy Dreams, turned out to be another unorthodox work.
Casting
The preponderance of dubbed roles was partly due to casting. Dušan Hanák wanted Rosy Dreams to feature little-seen and authentic actors. He turned to Czech actors to bring fresh faces to the Slovak silver screen, but out of those he cast, only Libuše Havelková and to some degree Václav Babka managed to speak the Slovak lines well enough not to require dubbing.
Many of the Roma, including Verona Ferčáková, Margita Gašparová, Ján Giňa, were selected for their roles over a wide region, not at Trhovište where their scenes were shot. Retaining the voices of these non-actors proved almost impossible too.
The otherwise adept Iva Bittová, a student at the music conservatory in Brno in Czech-speaking Moravia and daughter of a Moravian-Czech mother and a Romani father from the Galanta District in western Slovakia, had had little practical experience with Slovak and none with Romani, and the other Romani non-actors needed to be dubbed either for language issues, or because of their inexperience. She continued with her singing career, began to compose, and eventually saw her albums released in the United States.
Among the few authentic voices that belonged to less experienced actors was the lead, Juraj Nvota, a student of theater directing at the University of Performing Arts in Bratislava. He followed Rosy Dreams with several more acting roles, started a varied career as a theater director, and began to direct films in the 1990s.
Sally Salingová had gained some performing experience as a singer with the then popular Braňo Hronec jazz band.
Věra Bílá was born in the Czech Republic, but her father, the musician Karol Giňa, and mother were born and grew up in eastern Slovakia (she herself moved there in 2005), which gave her experience with the language. She embarked on an original singing career in the 1990s although she was singing in bands much earlier.
One of the film's most authentic-appearing characters, the granny Jakub feared dead, was actually played by the veteran actress Naďa Hejná from one of Slovakia's old, notable families (her mother was a noblewoman, her father was from the activist Pietors, her brother became Minster of Trade) who had a lifetime of amateur and professional experience on the stage in Martin.
The singer on the soundtrack is Kvetoslava Halušková, the guitarist is her husband Ján Turták. Among other groups, she used to sing with the Romani band Terne čhave (Young Guys), and they used to perform with the Karol Adam band in Košice.
Director Dušan Hanák (b. 1938)
Screenplay Dušan Hanák
Dušan Dušek (b. 1946)
Cinematography Dodo Šimončič (b. 1943)
Music Petr Hapka (b. 1944)
Editing Alfréd Benčič (1930-1997)
Language Slovak, Romani
Running time 1h 20'
Release date 8 April 1977
   
Characters Cast
Jakub Juraj Nvota (b. 1954)
Jolana Danielová Iva Bittová (b. 1958)
Jolana Danielová (voice) Zuzana Kronerová (b. 1956)
Jolana Danielová (singing) Věra Bílá (b. 1954)
Mother Hana Slivková (1923-1984)
Mother (voice) Žofia Martišová (b. 1934)
Father Anton Trón (1926-1996)
Father (voice) Štefan Figura (1910-2001)
Uncle Anton Josef Hlinomaz (1914-1978)
Uncle Anton (voice) Ľudovít Greššo (1916-1982)
Post Office Manager Elenka Libuše Havelková (b. 1924)
Mr. Babjak, postal employee Václav Babka (b. 1927)
Mrs. Múčková, woman with chicken coop Marie Motlová (1918-1985)
Mrs. Múčková (voice) Božena Slabejová (1930-2004)
Mr. Múčka, her husband Míla Beran (1904-1994)
Mr. Múčka (voice) Dano Živojnovič (1905-1983)
Granny Naďa Hejná (1906-1994)
Irena, Town Hall administrator Sally Salingová
Irena (voice) Helena Húsková
Ondro, Town Hall maintenance Milan Kiš (1934-2007)
Kveta, Jolana's friend Viera Součková
Kveta (voice) Zita Furková (b. 1940)
Vojto, Irena's boyfriend, Jolana's suitor Ján Žiga
Vojto (voice) Juraj Kukura
Dežo Daniel, Jolana's brother Arpád Rigo
Dežo Daniel (voice) Ivan Rajniak (1931-1999)
Gita, Jolana's sister Věra Bílá (b. 1954)
Phuri Daj (Grandmother) Verona Ferčáková
Mrs. Danielová, Jolana's mother Margita Gašparová
Mr. Daniel, Jolana's father Ján Giňa
Mr. Daniel (voice) František Kubeša
Mrs. Rigová, pregnant girl's mother Margita Miková
Mrs. Rigová (voice) Irena Pašková
Shop Floor Manager Marián Labuda (b. 1944)
Marcel, village fool Ľudovít Kroner (1925-2000)
Marcel (voice) Jozef Kroner (1924-1988)
Mirga, Phuri Daj's hearse driver Ondrej Redai
Fero Štefan Mandžár (b. 1952)
Magda Viera Kalejová
  Helena Demegrová
Soundtrack  
singing Kvetoslava Halušková
guitar Ján Turták

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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