Monday, January 23, 2012

Tři veteráni: A Review (sort of)

Back in January 0f 2008, I went to visit a friend in the Czech Republic. I was ostensibly in the country on a grant to study "Czech ballroom dance culture" because one of the advantages of going to a small liberal arts schools is that they will give you grants to research such things. However, my true aim was both to visit said friend and have a nice winter vacation in a place that, for obvious reasons that I somehow reasoned wouldn't phase me, has much fewer tourists in the winter. I did the usual site seeing in Prague and then rode a train 6 hours (a journey I think would have been much shorter if I'd spoken enough Czech to know how to ask for the express train) through the snow covered countryside to the town of Prostějov.

My friend was working on a paper while I was there, but I realized all I really wanted to do was relax after some busy traveling. There was thus a full day spent in which I didn't leave the house once. I enjoyed being warm inside and watching the snow, and while my friend worked on her paper, I drank copious amounts of tea with some sort of delicious cookie I've never found in the United States and watched children's programming with her nieces. Children's tv is actually perfect both for young speakers of Czech and adults who don't know it because I was able to follow along and shout out the word I knew meant "spider" thanks to the corresponding image on screen. However, the most enjoyable part of this day, specifically in terms of Czech children's media, was the discovery of the movie whose title translates in English to The Three Veterens.

I've always enjoyed an offbeat fairy tale and after seeing this one, felt that this story was too enjoyable to not be better known. I was even convinced that it should become a project of mine to translate the screenplay into English. Ever since that visit, I've been hounding my friend to procure me a copy. This year for my birthday, she sent me the movie on DVD (a most welcome gift--thanks, B!). Watching it again I realized it probably wouldn't be as easy to Americanize as I had thought. Nevertheless, I enjoyed it just as much the second time around.

The movie tells the story of the three titular veterans who, released from the army, find themselves on hard times. Luckily, they are visited by three dwarves who give them magical gifts--a hat that can create anything out of thin air, a purse that always has gold coins in it, and a harp that when strummed will create people who do whatever the harp's owner requires. The three men have differing opinions on what they should do with their newfound fortune--one wants to conquer the world, one wants to go fishing, and the last just wants to laze around and do nothing (which, as an editorial note, is probably the camp I would fall into were I to experience such a windfall). Hijinks ensue when they meet a greedy king and his beautiful and manipulative daughter. Not to spoil too much...but to give you a sense of the film...there is a long series of scenes in which a woman's nose grows so long that it visits multiple countries in Europe. It's madcap situations like this that I worry would fall flat with American audiences, despite being some of my personal favorites.

The nose makes it to Germany where it is initially mistrusted, but eventually given a medal.

Anyway, if anyone wants to take over the project of Americanizing a Czech children's classic--let me know. I might just have a copy I could lend you.


  1. Hey, I think I'm back! I will look for this on Netflix.

  2. Hey--welcome back! I'm glad you were able to sort out some of your technical issues! Also, you won't find this puppy on Netflix. I tried a while ago. If you want to borrow my copy though, you are welcome to!