Skeleton on Horseback

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<i>Bílá nemoc (Skeleton on Horseback).</i> 1937. Czechoslovakia. Directed by Hugo Haas. Courtesy the Czech National Film Archive
  • Skeleton on Horseback

    1937. Czechoslovakia. Hugo Haas. 108 min.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013, 4:15 p.m.
Theater 2 (The Roy and Niuta Titus Theater 2), T2
  • Skeleton on Horseback

    1937. Czechoslovakia. Directed by Hugo Haas. Screenplay by Haas, based on the play by Karel Čapek. With Haas, Bedřich Karen, Zdenĕk Štĕpánek. Skeleton on Horseback was one of the fascinating discoveries at Il Cinema Ritrovato in Bologna this year, presented in festival co-director Peter Von Bagh’s anti-fascist film program. In the fearsome months before the 1938 Nazi annexation of the Sudetenland, actor-director Haas adapted Čapek’s play about a mysterious “white plague” that threatens to devastate Europe. Set in an imaginary totalitarian state, the drama pits the warmongering ambitions of a ruthless dictator against the pacifist ideals of the only scientist who can find a cure for the deadly disease. “The stage production of Skeleton on Horseback at the National Theatre had provoked attacks from the Berlin press,” scholar Ernesto G. Laura notes, “but Haas’ film gave rise to a German diplomatic intervention in the government in Prague, which resulted in the film being banned.” Despairing of the future, Čapek would die on Christmas Day the following year, while Haas emigrated to Hollywood to become, improbably, a noted director of noir B-movies starring busty blondes. Preserved by the Czech National Film Archive. In Czech; English subtitles. 108 min.

In the Film exhibition

Image: Bílá nemoc (Skeleton on Horseback). 1937. Czechoslovakia. Directed by Hugo Haas. Courtesy the Czech National Film Archive