If the Czechs ever gave anything to the world as far as movies and such is concerned, it’s these two things: Little Mole (Krtek) and Cinderella (Popelka in Czech). Now I know many would argue there are more important films, but these two (actually a film and series of cartoons) are the ones that made a difference in my life and I feel honestly sorry for every kid that has to grow up without knowing them.
However, since today is the Christmas Day here in the Czech Republic, I shall focus on Cinderella as any of the Czechs would tell you, there’s no Christmas without our beloved Cinderella – Three Wishes for Cinderella that is.
First you need to understand that Christmas in the Czech Republic means fairytales. And that Czech film fairytales are significantly different from anything you’ve ever seen – luckily in the best sense possible. And they are hold very dear throughout our culture – the old ones anyway, made in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s, the golden era for this genre which gave birth to such classics as a comedy Císařův Pekař with the one and only Jan Werich about the Emperor Rudolph II or a musical comedy A Very Sad Princess where the Prince and the Princess are portrayed by the then contemporary pop idols.
All these mean Christmas for the Czechs. And Cinderella is at the top of them all, screened every year on the Christmas Eve with all the TV channels constantly fighting over the screening rights.
Yes, I’m not a fan of the traditional western film fairytales Americans and British love so much. But that’s probably because I grew up with something totally different. And much more charming.
And even though I’m generally not a fan of Czech cinema either, these fairytales are something that makes me very proud.
As far as Cinderella is concerned, I can guarantee you’ve never seen a fairytale as charming as this one.
This huge Czechoslovakia and East-Germany co-production (unlike the other Czech fairytales) holds a very special magic thanks to a few different factors.
First – it has snow. Ever seen a version of Cinederella set in winter? Doesn’t get more romantic and Christmassy than that. Of course, that part actually wasn’t planned at all, the snow surprised the filmmakers and was probably the greatest gift they could ask for, even if it made the shooting a little bit of a nightmare – every year these stories are being retold in print and on various TV shows. They are pretty much as classic now as the film itself.
Second – it has the most beautiful Cnderella you could imagine. Libuše Šafránková who played her at the tender age of 17 is beautiful and charming and has this special kind of magic you could probably compare only to Audrey Hepburn. Of course she remained one of the most beloved Czech actresses to the day.
As for the Prince, well… it doesn’t get much better than that either. Of all the Princes in all of the fairytales I have ever seen, this is how I imagine a Prince Charming!
With the music score conducted by Karel Svoboda, one of the greatest Czech composers and a song performed by our ‘national treasure’, singer Karel Gott (Germans probably heard of him) who’s voice alone means Christmas to me (and home), this film just has the best of it all.
Finally, the director Václav Vorlíček. The one man responsible for it all. He made a real treasure here and when I had the privilege to meet him while working for the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, when he came into the office and greeted me in the kindest of ways, like a family member pretty much, I could understand why Cinderella could be the way it is – made with so much charm, feelings and kindness. Because the director is like the movie. Very kind.
And let’s not forget the script – because our Cinderella is a courageous girl not just some by-stander. She’s witty, smart and great at archery.
Thanks to the East-Germany co-production, the costumes are also to die for.
There are tons of reviews on IMDb from people all around the world who have seen this film on one occasion or another throughout their childhood and they were trying to get hold of it ever since, as they recall it as the most magical film they have ever seen or became their favorite childhood memory. So if you don’t believe me, take it from them.
There simply is no better fairytale than our precious Three Wishes For Cinderella. And luckily, nowadays you can quite easily get it on Amazon (the British one for sure).
With that said, I’d like to wish you all a Very Merry Christmas! I hope it’s filled with love, happiness and magic! And I hope all your dreams will come true – with or without Cinderella’s three magical nuts 😉
Lots of love to you all!