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Uncle Cyril (1988)
"Prokletí domu Hajnù" (original title)

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A surreal look at madness in a brooding Czech countryside mansion.



(novel), (screenplay), 1 more credit »
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Credited cast:
Petr Brukner ...
Radoslav Brzobohatý ...
Erna Cema ...
Emil Horváth ...
Student Hurda
Frantisek Husák ...
Dr. Milde
Valérie Kaplanová ...
Ondrej Pavelka ...
Frantisek Rehák ...
Medical Doctor
Ota Sklencka ...
Evelyna Steimarová ...
Frantisek Svihlík ...
Petra Vancíková ...
Sona (as Petronela Vanciková)
Bohumil Vávra ...
Jakub Zdenek


Sonya is the inheritor to the riches of a Czech noble family - the Hajns. Petr, a social climber marries her, ignoring the shady goings-on, especially an insane uncle who prowls the mansion thinking he is invisible, a peccadilo the family seems to bear with and entertain. The mad uncle stalking every corner of the house, popping out of cupboards and curtains slowly takes its toll on the young bride. Interesting imagery and camerawork, poor script which could have been a good 20 minutes shorter. Written by Joyojeet Pal

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Also Known As:

The Damned House of Hajn  »

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User Reviews

intriguing visual imagery predominates
6 August 2003 | by (Cleveland, Ohio) – See all my reviews

SPOILERS Although the alternate titles I read given for the Czech PROKLETI DOMU HAJNU were INVISIBLE or THE DAMNED HOUSE OF HAJN, the print I saw had the subtitle UNCLE CYRIL - which is, perhaps, not too unusual as he is the "invisible" man on which much of the story hangs. I am no expert on the Velvet Revolution or other elements of Czech history although I am sure someone who knows these things well might no doubt glean more than just the surface elements of the story.

The visual and aural elements of the film were quite well-wrought and striking: from the eeriness of the shafts of light from the car headlights piercing the fog in the deep blue forest at night; the house lit up from within; maniacal laughter emanating from the house; and the falling shards of glass from a broken window transforming into doves and flying away. A cat's eyes in the dark, stained glass windows, a marble falling down spiral steps, a flower bleeding, a blue painting of Sonya (who is said to have 'bad luck with suitors') by Uncle Cyril - a bit of a departure from most of his more surrealistic efforts - all of these images and more were interesting to observe, although I can't say they made the story all that coherent for me - but since when has art been forced to be coherent?

Uncle Cyril is invisible, explains a relative to Peter - Sonya's current suitor - we pretend not to see him - he was in an institution for 7 months and almost died - "they know nothing about mental illness." Peter and Sonya marry - she carries flowers that bleed, as did other flowers earlier in the film. Inside the house Cyril plays the piano, then he comes to the celebration, later spying at Sonya, naked in her bedroom. Sonya cries out "I never want to be naked again - he wants to be like God, omnipotent, omnipresent, invisible." While other family members claim "He's never hurt anyone" and say "We don't pry into other people's things" Peter questions the family's views on Uncle Cyril "Do you lock up the sane so the insane have more room?!"

Another intriguing quote (perhaps a Czech proverb?) "Better to meet a she-bear than a madman safe in his madness." Whatever Cyril's madness is, it seems to have an adverse effect on Sonya. After Sonya catches Cyril spying on her in a negligee as she brushes her hair, she seems somehow fixated on him; when Peter comes running in response to her screams, she sees Cyril, not Peter. The men in white coats come, and we see an image of bleeding flowers for the 3rd time.

Sonya is pregnant; the paternity of the child is in doubt - Sonja catches Peter in sexual congress with her cousin Katy - the glass marble rolls down the steps again. After Katy's child is born, young Peter is afraid of cats (as was Uncle Cyril).

The film end with a surrealistic painting of a big eye.

What does it mean? I don't know.

But it was definitely an interesting experience - again, had I more historical knowledge, I might have teased more out of it. The most I can say is, when you're invisible, you can't look at yourself in the mirror, and so you can do heinous things with no conscience - that combined with Lord Acton's statement on power corrupting, and absolute power corrupting absolutely, may have something to do with the film's theme.

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