Who committed the biggest robbery in 20th century and when?
In one night in 1953 the whole population of Czechoslovakia, then standing at thirteen million, was filched of their life savings and most of their possessions by a small group of communist honchos. The currency was devaluated and all the citizens were reduced to mere subjects. The historical communist experiment was ready for the take-off.
First though they had to find somebody to blame for the mess….
The story of “Shadow of the Horse” starts as a regular detective story. Captain Hakl is facing a botched-up jewelry theft. Hakl has cut his teeth during his tenure in the pre-war Czech police. He doesn’t care much about politics, rather like a bloodhound he is driven by his analytical mind to crack every nut, solve whatever conundrum and unearth the elusive truth. The textbook case of a single culprit and single crime scene gets complicated. Yet Hakl is taken of the case and the almighty Secret Police – Stb steps in. They bring in an East German expert – Lieutenant Zenke. Someone ordered the theft and the traces point at sources within the Jewish community. Zenke is just the right man to deal with Jewish criminality.
Hakl is having second thoughts about the whole case; maybe someone wanted for him the find the right guy… and fast. He has other issues though, his marriage is falling apart and he suffers from a debilitating urinary tract infection.
Zenke doesn’t disappoint – he quickly proves that the money was to be taken out of the country to support Zionist agenda abroad. All accused quickly admit their guilt and are put away in haste. Hakl points to the discrepancies in the testimonies and is told by his superiors to look elsewhere.
Another crime follows soon. The stakes are higher this time – a post office heist goes wrong and there are two dead bodies left at the crime scene. All evidence points in the direction of the Jewish community again. The communist propaganda machine is gearing up towards a monster trial with bloodthirsty Zionists always ready to kill for their agenda.
Hakl is not buying it, and he also seems to be the only one troubled by Zenke’s past in the Nazi party. Hakl’s world is coming apart at seams and Zenke in his eyes turns into the biggest villain. When he learns that Zenke became close with his wife Jitka and charms away his son Tom, Hakl flips and attacks Zenke physically.
Zenke who comes on top in their fistfight has enough of his own problems. His handlers from Stasi and Stb ask more of him than what was originally the agreement. If Zenke ever wants to get reunited with his family in West Germany he has to stand on the witness stand during the monster process.
Hakl escapes from the hospital. He knows that his chances are slim at best, but he has to unearth the truth and speak at the trial. His world has fallen apart; he no longer trusts anyone and sets out on a one-man mission
…until Jitka is hit by a speeding vehicle when crossing a street.
He is being warned. Hakl was never been afraid before but now he fears for Tom. He has to do something still, so in a surprising twist he turns to Zenke.
Communist are getting anxious to put this mess behind them, people on the street are starting to speak about monetary reform. We are at the point when history breaks and being at the right side of the barricade is paramount.
The upcoming monster trial becomes a symbolic gateway to freedom for both Hakl and Zenke. On one hand there is a lot in common they share, yet they are virtually powerless. Or are they?
The year is 1953 and virtually any decision could lead to a death sentence.
2013- Czech Lions:
– Best Music: Jan P. Muchow, Michal Novinski
– Best Actor: Ivan Trojan
– Best Director: David Ondříček
– Best Editing: Michal Lánsky
– Best Film
– Best Screenplay: Marek Epstein, Misha Votruba, David Ondříček
– Best Cinematography: Adam Sikora
– Best Design Achievement: Jan Vlasák
– Best Sound
– Best Film Poster: Marius Corradini
2013- Czech Critics Awards- Best Film, Best Director, Best Cinematography (Adam Sikora), Best Music (Jan P. Muchow, Michal Novinski), and Best Actor
2013- Palm Springs International Film Festival- director to watch award
2013- Phoenix Film Festival – Copper wing award for best director