Anthropoid to be released on national holiday

War drama set in Prague will hit screens on St Wenceslas Day

The British-Czech co-production Anthropoid will go to Czech theaters on Wednesday, Sept. 28, which is also a national holiday for St Wenceslas and Czech Statehood. Films usually open on Thursdays.

Anthropoid tells the true story of the assassination of acting Protector of Bohemia and Moravia Reinhard Heydrich by Czechoslovak paratroopers working with the Britain's RAF during World War II. Heydrich was one of the architects of the Holocaust.

The film will be distributed domestically by Falcon. It was released in the US market Aug. 12 and will be released in the UK and Ireland on Sept. 9.

Anthropoid had its world premiere as the opening film of the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival in July, but was shown out of competition. Director Sean Ellis and others from the film attended the festival. Ellis, who co-wrote the script, said that he had spent 15 years on the project, and struck a deal to finally make the film three years ago. Filming took place between July and September 2015.

The film was shot in and around Prague on the actual locations from the historical events as much as possible, with interiors filmed at Barrandov Studios.

Cillian Murphy and Jamie Dornan star as Jozef Gabčík as Jan Kubiš, the two main parachutists. The Czech cast members include Anna Geislerová as a member of the resistance. Karel Roden also has a supporting role.

The film concentrates on the mission from the point of view of the main parachutists and resistance members. Nothing is seen of the preparations in Britain, and the target, Heydrich, is barely seen in the film. The aftermath in the town of Lidice is also largely left out, but that topic was covered recently in a Czech film with some of the same cast members.

“It is more about the dramatic conflict within the resistance of the Czech people. I concentrated more on that,” Ellis said in Karlovy Vary. “Yes, Heydrich is really like the arch-villain … but Heydrich is not really featured as a villain in the film,” he added.

The film is also an interpretation of the events. There are conflicting reports about several key details, and Ellis had to select not only what seemed most likely but also what worked best for dramatic purposes. “When you are doing a piece based on historical events you are a detective in some respect,” he said.

The film had mixed reviews in the US, with The Washington Post's Christopher Kompanek being the most positive. He gave the film four out of four stars, and said he hoped it would be remembered at Oscar time. He in particular praised that it did not follow standard thriller formulas.

Other critics like Variety's chief film critic Peter Debruge saw the lack of standard thriller elements as a drawback.

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