Interview with Jirí Svoboda - Director
You made the film Falling Empire for the hundred years of the republic. Why did you choose our first Minister of Finance?
Alois Rašín had been Minister of Finance for less than eight months. During the first, six from January to June 1919, he was able to separate the Czechoslovak currency from the Austrian currency and thus prevent hyperinflation, which subsequently affected all neighboring states to an overwhelming extent. His importance was pushed into the background during the First Republic by the unilateral glorification of TG Masaryk and E. Beneš. During the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, the name was condemned to the abyss of history due to the anti-Nazi activity of Rašín's son Ladislav. After 1948, he was virtually erased from history.
If you had to briefly portray him, how do you think he was like?
Undoubtedly a person of absolutely exceptional mental abilities. Just for example - during his two-year imprisonment in Pilsen's Bory, he read several dozen books, learned English so well that he could translate an English author's book on economics. He had an extraordinarily strong will and self-discipline. It seems to me that the list of positive qualities would be very long.
Why did you chose Ondřej Vetchý for the main role?
I don't think I could’ve found a more ideal representative. Ondřej is dynamic, explosive, but he can also be very gentle.
The wives of both politicians are also important in the series. How do you perceive their role?
Karla Rašínová fell in love with Rašín when she was 14 years old. When her husband was imprisoned in Vienna and sentenced to death in a long process, she partially los him. At the same time, she had to take care of three children at a time of growing shortages. He describes the difficulties in correspondence. Never regretfully. Zuzana Stivínová perfectly portrays those feelings.
Nadezhda fell in love with Kramár and was the mother of four children. She had a huge villa built in the Crimea and was temperamental, some sources say she was hysterical at the time of her husband's imprisonment. She had Kramár’s villa built in Prague, which is now the seat of the Czech government. Kramár’s idea of "neo-Slavicism" preceded the influence of Naděžda, which is often attributed to her. However, it is true that he partially sacrificed his career for his wife.
How difficult was it to make a historical series in contemporary Prague?
Today it is almost impossible. The colors of facades, shop windows, and everything else has changed. We were lucky that we were supported by the Hlávek Foundation, who enabled us to shoot interiors in Hlávek's chateau.
While studying the topic, you also met Alois Rašín's great-granddaughter. How did this help you?
I wanted to see the interiors of Rasín's villa as part of the preparations. His great-granddaughter, Karolina Breitenmoser-Stransky, made it possible for me. From the beginning, she was interested in the project. However, she had a bad experience with how her great-grandfather had been presented before, so she was very careful at the beginning. When she understood my intention and began to trust me, she brought me many unique documents and photographs from Switzerland, where she lives. That was extremely valuable.
The series is inspired by historical events, but how much of it is fiction?
Of course, fiction cannot be avoided in a TV drama. I didn't want to shoot a reading book. I am of the opinion that in the case of films about real characters, it is impossible to tell lies.
*Courtesy of Czech Television
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