Citizen Havel

citizen havel A new and quite unusual document has entered Czech cinemas. It is named after the main „actor“ in this film – Vaclav Havel. Yes, you are not mistaken, that really is the same Vaclav Havel, the former president of the Czech Republic. This document shows Havel in his years of presidency starting in autumn 1992, and going all the way to January 2003.

Thanks to this amazing document, every one of us can have an inside look at how it really is to be the president of the Czech Republic. We get the chance to see some of the private moments of Havel´s life as well as experience some tough political negotiations.

Vaclav Havel is a very important person in Czech history so it is no surprise that there is a documentary film about him. As the former leader of dissidents and later the first non-communist president after almost 50 years, he has been personified with the Velvet Revolution and democracy that the peaceful revolution brought back to the country.

He was the last Czechoslovak president and the first president of the Czech Republic. He was first elected president in the winter of 1989. He became the Czech president in 1993 and was re-elected in 1998. Because all Czech presidents can serve only 2 terms, he „retired“ in 2003, and was succeeded by Vaclav Klaus.

The idea to make a document about Vaclav Havel was truly amazing. But what is more, the crew had an exclusive position and was given almost unlimited access to all important meetings, including those from international politics. The camera was always by the president’s side for 13 years. The result is quite unique. Tens of hours of shootings were neatly cut into 112 minutes of a great document.

The „actors“ in this document are, apart from Vaclav Havel, no unfamiliar people. Just to name some – the former president of the USA Bill Clinton with his wife Hilary Clinton; the former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright; the present president of the USA George W. Bush with his wife Laura; the former French president Jacques Chirac; Mick Jagger and other members of the famous Rolling Stones; the present Czech president Vaclav Klaus with his rival for the position Jan Svejnar, and many others.

In the document we get to see the transition of the Czech Republic to a democratic state – getting ready for the NATO and the EU. We see Havel making many state calls but at the same time we see him as a normal guy. During the film making, the first wife of Vaclav Havel, Olga, died. A year later, the president got married for the second time. And we can watch all this on the screen.

I must admit I usually find documents boring, but in this case I have to say my judgment would be wrong. This document is definitely not a boring one. Vaclav Havel is a man who can make fun of himself and I really liked the idea that the camera could be present at all important internal as well as international events. It is truly a unique document!

If you decide to give it a try, visit the Palace Cinemas in Slovansky Dum, where they project the film with English subtitles. You will find this place near the Wenceslas Square, in Na Prikope 22. Enjoy!

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