Czech Republic


At the beginning of the story Lidice is just one of many small Czech villages trying to survive the war as best as it can. Day-to-day existence within the Protectorate flows along almost serenely and the biggest upheaval is a pub brawl where by accident a drunk father kills his own son. The crime is justly punished and the poor wretch Šíma starts his sentence. But thanks to this he, alone, survives his family as well as his entire village which becomes the scapegoat for the assassination of Heydrich. The tale of this deeply paradoxical hero is full of contradictions yet remains truly human and forms the spine of the whole film. The times are truly inappropriate for such play-acting. Just then an assassination had been carried out on Heydrich. Someone must be punished. Quickly. As an exemplary warning. For the whole world to remember. The point is not to find the real culprit. The point is to find a suitable sacrificial lamb. The plan is plain and simple – the village must disappear. During one night all men above the age of sixteen are shot, the women are dragged off to concentration camps. All the village children are assembled at the square and seven of them (being ´ethnically suitable´) are picked out for adoption in Germany. The eighty six remaining are taken off and eventually executed en-masse in gas-filled lorries.The village is burnt to the ground. Lidice was meant to be an example of deterrence and thus the Nazis were extremely rigorous – when one of the seven children chosen to be re-educated refused to speak German straight off it was sent back and murdered together with the others. While the news of the bestial Nazi revenge spreads like wildfire throughout Czechoslovakia, within the jail compound where Šíma gradually, albeit with difficulty taking into account his crime, manages to gain new friends the news of the Lidice tragedy is kept from him by everyone. Šíma explains to himself the lack of post and visits in his own way – it is proof that the family was in the end unable to forgive him and is trying to forget about him. The greater the shock then when he discovers the fate of his family and the village just when he is on the threshold of regaining his own freedom. His guilt which perversely saved his skin becomes suddenly a burden he has to bear all by himself. Nobody will keep reminding him of it. But neither can anybody absolve him.

Cast & Crew

Directed by: Petr Nikolaev

Written by: Zdeněk Mahler

Produced by: Adam Dvořák, Robert Schaffer

Cinematography: Antonio Riestra

Editing: Adam Dvořák

Production Design: Jan Vlcek

Original Score: James Harries, Michal Hruza

Cast: Zuzana Fialová, Roman Luknár, Zuzana Bydžovská, Joachim Paul Assböck, Karel Roden

Nominations and Awards

  • Feature Film Selection 2011