Jan Masaryk biopic coming in March

The diplomat's years in exile in London will be the main focus

Actor Karel Roden will portray Czechoslovak diplomat Jan Masaryk in a film titled Masaryk, which is scheduled to hit screens March 9, 2017. The film will cover only a small part of the life of the title character.

Masaryk, the son of the first Czechoslovak President Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk, is mostly known for his death in 1948, when he fell from a window a the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The upcoming film, however, looks at his life a decade before that incident.

He was living in exile in London after Czechoslovakia was broken up following the Munich Agreement in 1938. He also briefly vanished from public life in London for several months and went to the United States, where he could live in relative anonymity.

The film will explore Masaryk's dark side in that period, when he tries to escape from his famous name by falling into a life of debauchery, alcohol and drugs as he wallows in self-torment. A brief film clip showed to press has images of him snorting a white powder from the top of his desk and cavorting with several women, as well as trying to maintain his public image as a politician in exile and as a noted public speaker. The script is by Petr Kolecko, Alex Königsmark and Julius Ševčík. The latter also directed.

The filmmakers describe Masaryk as a “charming but unbalanced and self-destructive man.” They add that the film shows his doomed struggle for his country's existence playing out against a backdrop of historical events

“Masaryk is a wonderful film character because he is a knot of problems and at the same time a man with a huge responsibility. He would rather have been an artist, a bohemian, but he had the misfortune to come from a famous family. The character is constantly experiencing inner conflict; he is a person who is expected to deliver important achievements, but he is a man with a delicate, passionate and tormented soul,” director Ševčík said. It is his third film, following 2005 romantic drama Restart and the 2009 crime drama Normal, about German serial killer Peter Kurten.

Masaryk will also star several other noted Czech and Slovak actors plus and international cast. Oldrich Kaiser plays Edvard Beneš, who was the second Czechoslovak president and a surrogate father to Jan Masaryk. Jiří Vyorálek is Sudeten politician Konrad Henlein, while Robert Jašków is collaborator Emanuel Moravec. One of Masaryk's love interests is played by model Eva Herzigová.

The international cast features Hanns Zischler, who appeared in Steven Spielberg’s thriller Munich. He has been in over 170 films since 1968. Writer Marcia Davenport, who would later be Masaryk's fiancee, is played by Spanish actress Arly Jover, who appeared in the 1998 horror film Blade and the 2011 version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain is played by Paul Nicholas, who appeared in the 1975 film version of the rock musical Tommy, as well as in numerous stage productions of musicals in Britain. Dermot Crowley, who appeared in Alejandro González Iñárritu's 2006 film Babel and the crime TV series Luther, plays British Foreign Secretary Lord Halifax, and Milton Welsh, who as in Grand Hotel Budapest and The Ghost Writer, portrays French Foreign Minister Georges Bonnet.

The film is a Czech, Slovak and German co-production. “Masaryk is a film that brings together two of Czech Television's principal objectives. The first is to endeavor to support high-quality Czech cinema, talented filmmakers and original films that have the potential to appeal to both domestic and international audiences. The second is to turn the spotlight on purely local subject matter, our history, and to revive interest in it. I am convinced Masaryk fulfills both these objectives, and I am confident audiences will appreciate it,” Petr Dvořák, general director of Czech Television, said.

The film is in part supported by the State Cinematography Fund and the Slovak Audiovisual Fund.

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