In a quaint duchy that could have been torn straight from the pages of a classic fairy tale, lives an ensemble of characters you'd expect in any magical story. There’s the aging duke, weary of his royal duties, his two daughters — the malicious and arrogant Angelina and the modest, charming Adélka. Add to this mix a cunning steward, driven by greed, looking for ways to enrich himself at the duchy's expense, and the honorable Petr, whom the wicked stepmother, Dorota Máchalová, in collusion with the steward, seeks to deprive of his ancestral mill.
The story doesn’t end with just earthly troubles. Hell itself has its watchful eyes on all misdeeds, ever-ready to intervene when the time is ripe. As fate would have it, a young demon named Janek is dispatched to bring the evil Dorota to hell. But in a twist of fate, he mistakenly captures Petr’s kind-hearted grandmother. As Janek tries to rectify this mistake, he and Petr find themselves entangled in the duchy's military. Petr, on the other hand, had been fleeing the steward's intrigues but gets delayed after heroically stopping a runaway carriage bearing the duchess's daughters, saving their lives.
The duo, Petr and Janek, become unlikely allies. Petr even offers to assist the demon in completing his mission. But it won't be an easy task, especially when Dorota always has a feather at hand, a disaster for any demon.
It’s said that making deals with demons is morally questionable. But with a delightful cast led by the (quite literally) demonic Karel Heřmánek, it's easy to get swept up in this fairy tale's rules. Directed by Hynek Bočan with precision, the movie boasts impressive set designs (especially Hell), purposeful visual effects, and an overall light-hearted atmosphere. It's filled with iconic lines delivered by the Czech Republic's acting elite, elevating the film to the zenith of Czech/Slovak fairy tale creations.
This fairy tale has truly withstood the test of time, with its exceptional performances, witty script, ample humor, and likable demons (a slight point of contention given the Czech tendency to downplay the significance of Hell and the devil). The film also showcases the brilliant performances of Kretschmerová, Preiss, and Nárožný — an absolute must-watch.
Catchy melodies, memorable lines, and a futuristic portrayal of Hell make it a treat for both eyes and ears. Whether Hell is real or not, its conception in this film is brilliantly done. And, did anyone figure out where that cat came from?
A notable piece of trivia from the film shoot: The line, "She tipped the scales," during Dorota Máchalová’s (Jaroslava Kretschmerová) weighing on the infernal scales, wasn’t in the original script. A technical glitch made the scales tilt, which Karel Heřmánek (Lucifer) commented on, and the line was kept in the film. In another instance, when Petr Nárožný, playing a corporal, opened the doors of a baroque carriage, they broke off. The carriage was an original, and its owner was reportedly heartbroken on the set.
Relive this magical journey with the remastered Blu-Ray edition.