Pavel Juráček (1935-1989)

Personality in Film Art section

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Director and screenwriter Pavel Juráček is connected to film production of the 1960s which is sometimes referred to as “Czechoslovak film miracle. “

Pavel Juráček was born on 2nd August 1935 in Příbram. After graduation, he studied Journalism and Czech at the Faculty of Arts of Charles University. During his studies, he shortly worked as Večerní Praha (Evening Prague) news reporter. Even though he had experience with reporting and was an unofficial spokesman of his generation, he had problems with passing Philology exam and did not finish his studies. He didn’t find a job in any Prague editorial office and had to accept the position of a reporter for Vesnické noviny Nymbursko (Nymburk Village Newspaper). In less than a year in June 1957, he was accepted to study Dramaturgy at FAMU (Film and TV School of the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague).

During his studies, he impressed others with his talent and distinct literary style. He wrote a screenplay to Hlídač dynamintu (Dynamite Watchman) movie based on Jan Drda’s tale in 1960. At the end of the fourth year of his studies, he finished screenplay of Černobílá Sylva (Black and White Sylva) and edited screenplay of Strop (Ceiling) by director Věra Chytilová in 1961. 

After finishing university, he became script editor in Bohumil Šmída‘s and Ladislav Fikar’s creative group named Filmové studio Barrandov (Barrandov Studios). In the 1960s he participated on realisation of many films either as co-author or screenwriter, we can mention sci-fi Ikarie XB 1 and Bláznova kronika, (Fool's Chronicle) both directed by J. Polák, Nikdo se nebude smát (Nobody Will Laugh) based on Milan Kundera’s theme and directed by H. Bočan and Konec srpna v hotelu Ozón (The End of August in Ozón Hotel) directed by J. Schmidt. In 1963 Juráček directed movie Postava k podpírání ( A Character in Need of Support)  for the first time in cooperation with Jan Schmidt and he also created the theme and screenplay. The medium-length Kafka inspired film is a story of a man trapped in, labyrinth of absurdity and bureaucracy. A year later Juráček received Grand Award for the movie in Oberhausen and FIPRESCI Prize in Mannheim. In 1965 he directed two storyline film from military life Každý mladý muž (Every young man) expressing absurdity and mindless manipulation of the military. The film was awarded FIPRESCI Prize on International Film Festival Karlovy Vary in 1966.

At the end of the 1960s, Juráček got into the lead of one creative group in Barrandov. He participated on creating many great movies as a producer such as Ovoce stromů rajských jíme by V. Chytilová, Skřivánci na niti by J. Menzel, Nevěsta by J. Suchý and also Juráček’s greatest and last project Případ pro začínajícího kata which was an allegory to communism to Czechoslovakia inspired by Gulliver‘s Travels by Swift. The main character gets to an imaginary land where people are manipulated by rulers. The movie was finished at the beginning of Normalization in December 1969, and its screening was banned a year later.

In the middle of 1971 Juráček had to leave Barrandov for the reason of “lost trust“, none of his projects could have been realised, and he got into financial crisis. Impossibility to work and partner disagreements caused him health problems and depressions. The situation got even more complicated after his signing Charta 77 (Charter 77) when he was forced to leave for Germany. Yet, he didn‘t succeed in the commercial film industry. Even though he wrote more than 20 screenplays and themes such as Situace vlka inspired by J. London or Golem inspired by G. Meyrink, none of the screenplays was directed. He would have to leave his ideals to become successful but he couldn’t have done it. Disappointment and more health problems forced him to return to Czechoslovakia after 6 years. But even back at home, despite the help of his friends, his health condition didn’t improve and depression reappeared. During successful negotiations with Film Studio Gottwaldov on Situace vlka film shooting, Pavel Juráček died of cancer at the age of 54 on 28th May 1989.


FRYŠ, Josef, 1944-. Dvanáct osudů dvou staletí. Josef Fryš. Vyd. 1. Příbram: J. Fryš, 2006. 270 s. ISBN 80-239-8119-6.

FRYŠ, Miloš. Naši rodáci. M. Fryš, Příbramský zpravodaj, 1990, roč. 26, č. 2, s. 14-15.


Author: Hana Pegová, Jan Drda Library in Příbram