The Pagan Queen (2009)
A controversial film about the end of the old pagan world in central Europe, THE PAGAN QUEEN is based on the Czech legend of Libuse, the Slavic queen of 8th century Bohemia. Gifted with supernatural powers, a visionary and a seer, this extraordinary woman was able to see the future and in a turbulent time of cultural change founded the modern city of Prague. Libuse ruled as a woman over the tribes of the region with her two beautiful sisters Kazi and Teta and an army of women under the command of her best friend, the Amazon Vlasta. When the peaceful community of farmers is under attack by raiders and split into different parties of power hungry landowners, Libuse is forced into marriage by her own people. Desperate she elects her long time lover, the charismatic ploughman Premysl, to become her husband and king. Soon Premyl takes over the new kingdom and rules with an iron fist, enslaving the formerly free farmers. But Libuse's friend Vlasta, who is secretly in love with her, refuses to follow the new leader and with her maiden army declares war on the men of Bohemia. The film is based on the 18th and 19th century romantic German fairytales and plays by Johann Karl Musaeus, Clemens Brentano and Franz Grillparzer who emphasize the supernatural elements of the story and combine that with psychology and philosophy. This approach caused a massive scandal in the Czech Republic during the theatrical run of the film.
- THE LEGEND OF LIBUSSA
Card: 1: KROK
Sweat runs down the face of the dying old tribe leader and landowner KROK (IVO NOVAK), know in the legends of old Bohemia as King Krok, a man of wisdom and knowledge of magic.
TITLE: Bohemia, 700 A.D.
A full moon shines through the stone arch window. Insects buzz around a single torch over Kroks bed. A huge moth scorches its wings on the flame. Kroks three beautiful daughters stand next to his bed. He is dying from a deadly plague that has spread throughout the land. Semi-conscious, he speaks of his fondness for each of the princesses, introducing them to us, as he teeters on the brink of death. KAZI (VERONIKA BELLOVA), the eldest sister, is a healer and student of nature. TETA (VERA FILATOVA) is Kroks high priestess, burning juniper, thyme, marjoram and crocus by his bedside in a ritual to ward off evil spirits. But the apple of Kroks eye, LIBUSSA (WINTER AVE ZOLI), is the most beautiful of all, with great imagination, wisdom beyond her years and the potential to do truly great things in this world. What Krok has accomplished is only a start, and he predicts that Libussa will go on to do much more. He praises Libussas vision how to improve the life of the people and her imagination to make his (and her) ideas reality. For this she is known to her people as a seer with the gift of prophesy. Krok knows that his time has come, and ask Kazi for a special potion to ease the pain of his agony. The sisters are shocked to hear that the end has finally come, and that Krok has given up, but Kazi agrees. She requires the herb nightshade, a poisonous plant, and which blooms at night. Kazi is going to send one of her maiden but Libussa volunteers to go, being lighter of foot and more learned in the ways of natural medicine than any of their maiden. She says that she has seen the herb, and knows where to find it. The warrior girl WLASCA (LEA MORNAR) offers to come, to ride with her, but Libussa says that the banks of the river are too steep for Wlascas horse and that she will be fine on foot. We see from their exchange that her and Wlasca have a bond as best friends. Krok whispers to Libussa before she goes, tells her to take care in that forest, that you never know what might be lurking behind the next tree. She nods, squeezes his hand and sets off to find the herbs.
Libussa runs along the rivers bank, lightfooted but anxious, her fathers old adage about taking care in the forest still ringing in her ears. In the woods behind her, shapes of monstrous animal faces seem to peer out through the trees, lurking there, watching her. It is dark and gusty, and rain begins to pelt down. She finds a patch of the wild flowers for which she is searching, and bends down to pick them. A gentle melody seems to float up from the river, and she takes note for only a moment before returning to her task. The rain drenches her as she gathers the flora. Her satchel full of flowers, Libussa turns to hurry back to her fathers aid. The clouds part slightly. Suddenly a huge dark form rears up on the bank behind her and lets out a deafening roar. Libussa looks up in terror at the burning eyes and huge teeth, luminous in the moonlight. The bear swipes at her with an open paw, knocking her sideways onto her hands. Libussa scrambles backwards, stunned, slipping on the shale of the bank as the bear closes in for the kill. Libussa, gathering her senses, looks around for an escape. She has only seconds. The river, pock marked by droplets of rain, shimmers beautifully in the moonlight as it gurgles through a series of rapids. The bear swipes again, and Libussa shows her grace and dexterity as she springs backwards and dives into the weaving river waters.
Now she is gasping for breath, trying to control her body in the wild eddies of the rapids, as the river carries her away. The silhouette of the bear roars after her from the bank. She turns to see where she is being taken, but a boulder looms out of the darkness and she collides with it, then another. The sound of Libussas mothers voice appears as a song drifts along through the choppy waters. Libussa gasps for air again, then blacks out as she travels further downstream.
A montage intercutting:
Krok lies semi-conscious, in the throes of agony as a new day dawns. Early in the morning, Libussa is found by young PREMYSL (CSABA LUCAS), unclear in the morning mist, but naked and of god like beauty, as he bathes in the river. Between their tears, Teta and Kazi look around concerned, wondering what has happened to Libussa. The dark figure of Premysl lifts Libussas exhausted form from the riverbank. A mare whinnies and kicks as she labours to deliver a foal. By a crackling fire in his hut, Premysl tends to the gash on Libussas forehead. The foal arrives. Krok dies as the sun rises. Libussa is in the river again, gasping for air her dreams mixing with real images.
CUT TO: Libussa gasps for air as the foal licks her face. She comes to and blinks, but realizing she is warm and comfortable, as if waking from a long sleep, she squints up at Premysl with a smile, an unspoken familiarity. They have an instant rapport. Premysl has an undeniable charm, and tells her how he found her and carried her home and dressed her in his sisters clothes. Libussa is a little embarrassed but carries herself with a regal dignity, and the two flirt a little. Premysl tries to guess what noble house Libussa belongs to, but it is immediately clear he has an unconventional, irreverent approach to ideas of status and power, and can take it or leave it (ie. his own self-esteem is steady enough to live without the need of a title or wealth to display his worth to the world). Libussa is obviously impressed and intrigued by this. She asks what he will name the foal. Premysl notes that the foal is only a mousy infant now, but someday he will grow to be a great stallion, and declares that he will name it Krok, in honour of their great leader who only the night previous has passed away. Libussa remembers the river, and then suddenly her father, and her mission to gather herbs. She bolts from the bed, and asks for her satchel, but it has been lost in the river. Premysl offers to escort her home, but she simply asks him to point her towards the river. He points to one wall of the small shack and Libussa sprints out the door before he can say any more.
From the claustrophobic interior of Premysls shack, we cut to the wide vistas of the Bohemian countryside as Libussa makes her way back to the castle. She passes a herald who announces the news from a royal proclamation. All around her, the people weep openly as they mourn the departure of their great leader.
Card: 2: LIBUSSA
Libussa returns to her fathers castle in the evening. She passes the lines of grieving Slavs: the wealthy farmers and bravest warriors stand next to simple folks and the familys servants. They all wait outside the castle in the courtyard as well as inside the castle up the staircase and in the hallway outside Kroks room. Entering the room she discovers that Krok has died a drawn out and painful death. Her sisters sit around the body still on the bed. They cannot believe that she failed to return with the necessary herbs. Libussa is heartbroken and racked with guilt. She kneels by Kroks body, as the ritual of preparing the dead starts. Before the body is carried away (or while) Libussa speaks to him, perhaps of old times, perhaps of what she sees in the future, or of the advice that he once gave her. We see from this scene how special Libussa is and how the weight of destiny rests on her shoulders.
The next night all the tribe leaders gather around a burned down oak tree which is known as Kroks oak to decide on the succession of Krok. The lands are in danger from two sides: there is a deadly plague, which has ravaged the land and has taken Krok, and there are the terrifying Avaren, a tribe from the North who have begun to stage raids on their villages and who are pushing south. Now that Krok has died the tribe leaders consider electing a new leader to lead them against these two dangers. Libussa learns that before he died, Krok told the sisters that he had suggested to the tribal leaders to choose Libussa as his successor, that she would be the most suitable to rule in his place, being the closest to the people, and that only she has the imagination and strength of will to. Krok asked the sisters to accept his decision gracefully, to protect and help Libussa in her new position as Queen. Teta remains the high priestess, but Kazi, as the eldest sister and a great student of medicine, is distressed by her fathers choice to exclude her from the future of the state, especially when the first duty of the new Queen would be to tackle the plague. Kazi confronts Libussa angrily. Kazi questions why Libussa was always Kroks favourite, and wonders what she herself did wrong to be overlooked.
After a debate during which different point of views are being pronounced and Libussas virtues are being laid out, the tribal leaders ask Libussa to succeed Krok. Amongst them, two younger and more ambitious nobles, Wrschowetz (MAREK VASUT) and Domaslaus (PAVEL KRIZ). Libussa tries to calm the situation by only accepting on condition that she gives the forest to Kazi, and the mountains to Teta. Still feeling guilty about the painful demise of her father, Libussa resolves to attack her new role with determined resolve and to lead by Kroks example of wisdom and fairness. The tribal leaders agree to pledge their allegiance to her.
Libussa sits with her fathers body alone, speaking to him, paying her last respects, before a great funeral and coronation scene in the presence of all the tribal leaders, showing in great detail how these rituals were conducted. Libussa, as the new queen, lights the pyre in the ceremony, a symbolic and difficult moment for her.
Libussa begins her reign and is overwhelmed by the sheer volume of work in governing this fledgling state. In her quest to wipe out the plague, she tries to persuade Kazi to help, but Kazi is still sore at Kroks decision to back Libussa for the throne, and is only half helpful, stating that the people are selfish and ungrateful, and will never appreciate what Libussa will do for them. She has never been a great believer in the way men organize their society, and she is wondering if she should instead concentrate on caring for the animals of the forest. Kazi retreats to her forest castle to continue her study of the green earth, becoming a little obsessive about nature in the process.
The foal is a year old now we open on it as Premysl leads it on a rope. On the first anniversary of Kroks death, Libussa holds court under the burnt out oak, carrying on the tradition of her father in settling disputes of the land.
She is now settled into her new role as Queen. Wrschowetz and Domaslaus compete for Libussas favour but she is not interested in marrying either of them. She gives them an apple and tells them to share it but not to divide it, knowing that the riddle of the apple will tie the two men up and give her a chance to put off their demands that she take a husband. Premysl watches everything from amongst the gathered farmers and merchants, now understanding the identity of the maiden he rescued from the river, and realizing the sheer impossibility of becoming her husband when there is such a class divide between them. He steps forward to gift her the white yearling Krok, causing her to think of him again. He promises that the yearling will grow to be the finest stallion in the land, and she gifts him something in return. Premysl comes across Wrschowetz and Domaslaus as he leaves the court. They are in utter confusion over the apple. He manages to con it from them and eats it as he leaves. Arriving on his grounds he plants the core of the apple, which will later grow into a tree and solve the riddle: being cut in two yet stays one.
Wlasca arrives on a huge horse and cuts a really powerful figure as she rides into the clearing. She is there to accompany Libussa from the spring onto her next destination; to relieve a plague-ridden village which has been attacked by the Avaren.
On the way to the village, Libussa talks to one of her maiden, Stratka, who always attracts a lot of attention at court due to her extraordinary beauty. Stratka is quite enamoured with Domoslaus and Libussa thinks they might make a handsome couple, if Domoslaus can be persuaded to give up his dream of marrying into power. Suddenly, Libussas convoy is attacked by a skirmishing party of Avaren fighters. The Avars are a tribe from deep in the forest, and are truly terrible, dressed entirely differently than the Slavs, fierce and bloodthirsty.
Wlasca shows her determination to protect Libussa in leading a small royal guard to victory and personally saving Libussa from the axe of the Avaren leader, (who is merely a teenage son of an Avaren chieftan who has set out to prove himself against the Slavs). Wlasca kills the boy, but sustains an almost fatal blow to the head as she does so. There is quite a scene of carnage in the aftermath. Many members of Libussas party have been slain, and as they pack up to leave, Stratka is discovered nearby, her clothing torn to shreds and her throat cut, left for dead. Libussa shows herself to be a great leader by picking up after the battle and then carrying on to the village to ensure the chieftains loyalty remains unwavering. As a reward for her valour, Libussa makes Wlasca the head of the army, which she is creating in response to the growing problem of Avaren raids. Some years go by as Libussa devotes every waking hour to fighting disease (burning entire villages, etc. re-housing the refugees) and striving to better the lot of her people, all the time dreaming of Premysl but never finding the opportunity to re-establish contact. She ends up gaining a great mastery of medicine herself through her trials and tribulations of fighting the plague.
Somewhere, maybe here, maybe throughout it would be good to show Libussas philosophy of life which is a carpe diem, non religious focus on the life on earth. This shows in different ways:
- the way she cares about her people and tries to improve life - the way she enjoys life and her own sensuality - the way she believes in personal freedom versus serfdom and a hierarchic structure of society suggested by the tribe leaders and later adapted by Premysl. The entire concept of aristocracy is based on the belief that we all have to play a role in life which cannot be altered (the king stays king, the beggar stays a beggar) under the will of God. The great reward is supposed to come later in the afterlife. Libussa does not care for this concept but wants everyone to be happy on earth. - her melancholy is linked to the lack of religious belief. Because everything is mortal and definite there is a feeling of tragedy and doom of everything. A Christian traveler/missionary arrives in Bohemia, a singer with a lute from Byzanz. Everybody likes him because of his music. He shows some foreign goods to the people and Libussa likes to have him around, as he brings something worldly to her court. He is one of the only characters who can read or write, and he begins to make an account of Libussas reign. He decides to live in on top of a rocky mountain in the forest close to God.
One night, Libussa talks with Wlasca in her secret gardens, discussing her plight, as her maidens wait nearby. Stratka is there a huge scar across her neck silent and disturbed. Wlasca asks Libussa if she ever feels lonely, and wonders why Libussa hasnt taken a husband. Libussa is still the same mellow, life-loving free spirit that she has always been, but she explains that her position has made her feel distant from her people and men are scared to desire her or even approach her as anything other than their queen the only ones who will are those arrogant enough to do so, and she is not turned on by arrogance. There is a sense of closeness between them here, as if Wlasca perhaps has feelings for Libussa and is gently probing the condition of her heart. Libussa then bursts Wlascas bubble by telling her that there is a man who she dreams of, and how she thinks only of him through her long days on the throne. But she darent say who he is, because they can never be together, and for his name to be known would only make her frustration more unbearable, and their eventual union more unlikely still. Libussa misses the promiscuity of her youth, and longs for a day when she can take whatever man she desires to her bed without fearing the consequences.
One day at the stream she is thinking of Krok and her mother, she tells the story of her origin to someone, maybe the Christian, who is also shown during Libussas tale later in his enclave writing the story down. The story goes that Krok saved an old oak tree from being cut down by the fist Slavic settlers he was part of. The reason was that he had fallen in love with Nive, a tree elf who inhabited the oak. The tree elf became his wife and mother to his three daughters. Unfortunately the oak was destroyed by the will of the Gods one night with lightning and the tears of the elf became the river whos source sprang from underneath the burned down tree stump. Nive, Libussas mother had transformed into the river itself. After completing her tale Libussa sees something glinting on the riverbed. On closer inspection, she finds it to be gold. She turns and looks up the mountain, the glinting silver reflected in the inspired glint in her eye.
Libussa digs the first tunnel and founds mining. We see her in the darkness of a tunnel, a torch in her hand, in the middle of children workers, used because of their small size, like an angel in the underworld.
Card: 3: TETA
Now mountains are being torn asunder to find silver, gold and metal ores, and Teta mourns the loss of the mountains precious treasures, which she believes make the mountains sacred places, as they were gifted such treasures by the Gods and buried so that man will not meddle with them. She takes exception to mans greed the mineral wealth is finite wealth and she contests that spiritual wealth from a life of prayer and simplicity, is eternal. But Libussa cannot listen when there are such obvious tangible benefits for her people, and mining continues to flourish, unabated.
Being at heart a fun-lovin girl, and pining for her ideal man, and after getting some of the angst off her chest in talking to Wlasca, Libussa eventually cracks, needs an escape, and rides out on the white horse Krok (now grown into an impressive young stallion), under cover of darkness. She gallops across the land, the mythical figure of a cloaked lady on a white horse, until she arrives at Premysls humble abode and Premysl is stunned to see her (and impressed by how his stallion, Krok, has matured). Her return to him is with the express purpose of seducing him, as she has dreamt of since she first met him. A passionate affair begins through a time when Libussas huge responsibilities and obligations are made bearable by her growing bond with Premysl. There is a full moon on the night Libussa first visits Premysl and she promises that no matter how pressing her official duties become, she will always come to him when the moon is full in the sky. We see many moons pass where she rides out to see him, and a guard on the castle wall watching her go.
Libussa often talks of a city that will cover all the ground between village a and village b and across the river to village c. She is looking out over thousands of acres of forest, and seems quite mad to imagine such change, but she has seen the value of mining and how it can help build her state and enrich her people, and kick started this, so her visions are now carefully considered by those around her. As she becomes so taken with nation-building, she begins to neglect Premysl. At one full moon, we see a lonely Premysl standing outside his hut alone, watching the night sky, no sign of Libussa on the road.
At court, Wrschowetz and Domoslaus are still adamant that a man should lead, unhappy with Libussas governance (her disinterest in exerting military might on their neighbours, etc.) and always offering to to join her side and take a more forceful control of the affairs of state. They make their cases for their own candidacy, but Libussa asks them for the apple, and they do not have it, as they had not understood the purpose of her test. Wrschowetz realizes he will never win her heart ands starts to think about other options how to elevate himself to power.
Libussa starts a large treasure (like the Nibelungen treasure), which she hoards under her castle protected by the river Moldau in a secret chamber in the rock, as something she will one day use to save her people. As her desire for gold and the stability of wealth starts to dominate her she looses her abilities to do magic, receive visions and talk to her mother (the river).
On a few occasions we see the guard on the battlements under the full moon, some armored horsemen in a shady grove, horses champing impatiently and Premysl standing outside his hut, watching the road, as if something springloaded is waiting to happen next time she goes to visit.
Premysl is feeling neglected - Libussa is dreaming of mining and founding cities and building a utopia, and Premysl thinks that she allows the chieftains to ask too much of her, that she is too nice to them, and that to create a successful state she should be tougher, and make them pay more taxes, and rule with an iron fist (so we set up their conflicting political ideologies) and spend more time with her love and her own life, as her sisters chose to. She hasnt seen Premysl in a while, and under pressure from her official duties, and noticing the full moon one night she rides out to see him, although she knows she is more likely to get an earful for taking him for granted as she does, leaving him waiting for months on end until she feels the need for his company. Wlasca who knows from Libussa about the affair with Premysl starts to worry about how that affair develops and decides to keep a keen eye on it. One night she learns from the stable boy that Wroschowetz knows about the affair and the excursions under the full moon and that an attack on Libussa during these excursions is immanent.
Libussa rides out on her white horse. In the yard, the stable boy hands Wlasca the reigns to her own horse (which has to be black!). Libussa, unarmed, is suddenly aware of four horsemen charging up behind her as she crosses the countryside. She digs her heels in and gallops away with them in hot pursuit. She reaches the clearing of Premysls home, on the edge of a town, and her horse rears up as the attackers surround her and try to come at her from different sides, the white horse Krok keeping them at bay. As one attacker looks like he is going to get a stab on target, Wlasca arrives, rushing from the darkness and almost taking his head clean off with a heavy mace. Two of the remaining attackers turn to fight her while one drives his spear into Libussas horse. Libussa struggles to control the horse. The attacker draws a sword and closes in on her. He swipes, she dodges but the horse rears up again and she falls off, banging her head. Meanwhile, Wlasca fights the other two horsemen, showing her prowess. One slashes her shoulder before she knocks him from his horse. She smashes the other attackers helmet and as she is about to finish him off, she looks up and sees Libussa, semi conscious on the ground, cornered by her assassin, as he raises a sword to finish her. With a mighty throw, Wlasca flings her mace across the clearing and kills Libussas attacker. It is a valiant act of heroism she leaves herself defenceless and as she turns back to the last horseman she was about to finish off, she realizes he has recovered. He leaps from his horse and tackles her to the ground, where they roll off the road into a watery ditch. This is a real mans fight now, and the assassin punches Wlasca relentlessly in the face, then choking her, holds her face under the water. She is too weak to escape, and flails desperately. Suddenly Premysl charges off the road and pulls the man off Wlasca, throws him against a tree. The man turns and raises a dagger, and Premysl runs him through with his sword without a seconds thought. We see his face clearly it is Wrschowetz. Voices from other farms nearby are approaching, carrying torches. Premysl looks down at Wlasca for a moment, then runs to tend to Libussa. He passes the attacker who Wlasca first knocked off his horse, who jumps back on his steed and rides away before he can be found out. Libussa stands, still disorientated, and grabs the reigns of her horse. She sees the people coming. Premysl, although somewhat distant from Libussa as he doesnt see her as often as he once did, asks if she is hurt, but she is queen and has to leave before the others arrive. She asks if Wlasca is okay. He says she will live and Libussa asks Premysl to look after Wlasca. She rides away and Premysl is left to nurse Wlasca and be seduced in the process of course Libussa does not venture to see Premysl after this traumatic incident, and Premysl feels that she has drifted from him by now, and Wlasca has ample time to fall in love with Premysl as he takes care of her.
Libussa returns to court and is now faced with an unsolvable dispute between a handsome young farmer, who has returned from fighting the Avars to find his land ruined by pollution from a nearby mine, and the miners. The young farmer is charged with murdering one of the miners, and Libussa rules in favour of the young farmer, setting him free. She sends the miners home, telling them that they have got what they deserved for polluting the land. Now wealthy interests in the land turn against Libussa and the angry miners call for a king to resolve the dispute fairly. Leaving the court enraged, the miners start a local land war between miners and farmers and now there are calls for an army to keep the peace. Domoslaus is one of the troublemakers at court of course, calling for a king while at the same time presenting himself as the perfect candidate. Libussa is almost totally alone now, and she begins to show signs of growing paranoia. Between this trouble and the ease with which her would-be assassins have attacked, the tribal chieftains insist that Libussa find a man to join her in ruling, and commanding the army, which is now necessary not only to fight the Avaren but to enfore the law between farmers and miners. As the conflict gets out of hand, Libussa is forced by the assembly to agree to take a king. She makes her speech about how they will all lose the freedom and peace they enjoyed under a woman.
Card: 4: PREMYSL
Wlasca has long encouraged Libussa to resist the voices of men and continue to rule as she believed was right, but Wlasca is curiously absent in Libusssas hour of need, and Libussa finally decides that although the nobility would never accept a peasant as ruler, the people would. The only way to convince the nobility to accept this popular choice is by making them believe the peasant is somehow divinely appointed. She tried for many years to dream up a way of promoting Premysl to the rank where she might be able to marry him, and other schemes that might bring them together, but always gave up. Now she offers to tell the tribal leaders and nobles who might join her in power when they cannot decide on a candidate to impose upon her, and they are eager to hear her suggestions. After much consideration, understanding the power of enigma, etc. Libussa contrives her riddle and sends a party to find the man eating at his iron table. At first, the leaders are unimpressed and a little sceptical - she adds the horse as a last minute closer, literally thinks of him mid act and this is the thing that seals the deal as suddenly the leaders, etc. must sit up and take notice a great white horse named Krok somehow guided by a greater power! She sends the horse to find Premysl.
The departing envoy from Libussas castle is connected to their arrival at Premysls farm by Premysls daydream. He is sitting on his plough, eating his lunch, imagining Libussa with her arms by her side allowing the horse to bring her back to him, and moments later he looks up and the delegation arrives.
Wlasca sleeps in Premysls bed. She wakes to hear the conversation between the delegation and Premysl, and when he steps inside his hut whilst preparing to leave, she knows what has happened. They dont speak and he just leaves without another word.
He sticks the rod/staff in the ground, and we can show in a simple shot, as the delegation departs for Libussas court, how the rod has blossomed.
The two marry in front of the Oak tree and all the tribe leaders swear their obedience under the new ruler. This is the beginning of the first dynasty of Bohemian history. When Wlasca arrives back at Libussas court, she disguises her reaction to the news of the marriage as if it is disgust that the throne will return to the control of a man, and not that Premysl has turned his back on her. Wlasca is heartbroken and bitter. Wlasca and her maiden retreat to the mountains, where she begins to build support for a woman to return to power.
Libussa and Premysl are both quite guarded when they are first brought together, and Premysl is suspicious, and there are some misunderstandings of each others intentions, so they keep their cards close to their chests. They joust verbally, and test each other, and we build a sense of frustration that they are almost going to blow it. Once each realizes that their love is true, and that it has not faded over time, they rejoice and Libussa shows Premysl the treasures and secrets left by Krok, and her magical garden. She confesses to neglecting Premysl as her public duties overwhelmed her, but now that he can be by her side, she promises never to neglect him again.
The two of them get stuck into building a country. She is the head and he is the arm (legislature and executive power). Premysl runs with her ideas, of Prague, and mining, and trade, but to further his own beliefs that leadership should be tough, and demanding of the people, and powerful. Prague becomes a vision, a dream, a door to the rest of the world and the means to start trade and gain wealth. Perhaps instead of sending men to search for a guy in the woods, Libussa can travel into the forest with Premysl, and tell him of her vision, and they come across a man making a threshold and decide that this is the place, at the bend in the river.
Libussa soon finds that she is glad of lessened responsibility, and begins to remember herself and her fondness for life beyond public office. She is visited by the handsome farmer she has previously ruled in favour of (and had her wicked way with at some point in the past). Premysl senses this and soon commands his army officers to attack and slay the handsome farmer, as a solution to the land war. Libussa is horrified when she finds out, and this shows the cracks that are beginning to form in their new relationship. Premysl has been a dreamer since Libussa first met him, and sees his new position as a tool he can use to wield power, and create a nation as he imagines it can be, but he soon becomes obsessed by this and as overwhelmed by the responsibility as Libussa was previously. It is a task which he puts all of himself into, leaving nothing for Libussa.
They reign together for almost ten years, during which they bring prosperity to the land. The end of this golden age begins to come about due to the peoples greed for more wealth, which leads to the demand for further reaching commerce and trade.
Card: 5: KAZI
Libussa travels to see Kazi through areas where the forests have been cut down. Kazi meets her in a hallway regained by nature: vegetation has broken through the walls and wild forest animals are running freely. Libussa discovers that Kazi is beginning to show signs of dementia, and becoming obsessed with the natural kingdom, which she sees disappearing around her. Premysl is destroying forests to make way for their great city, for agriculture and trade routes, and Kazi is now feeling the effects in her natural habitat, but when she talks to Libussa about confronting him and changing his plans, Libussa defends her husband, and Kazi becomes convinced that Libussa is now weak and that her will is somehow enslaved to Premysl, and she predicts unhappiness in Libussas future as she becomes subservient to the King. She talks to Libussa in her bedroom, which looks like a zoo with more forest animals, which are her pets.
Domaslaus approaches Wlasca about a plot to kill Libussa and Premysl and take power, suggesting that they marry and give the people a new, stronger King and Queen. Wlasca is now quite an intimidating figure, resemble her mother physically, she looks much older and really scary, a dark queen of death and revenge. She is holding her own court in her mountain stronghold of Adrspach-Teplice. She dislikes Domaslaus suggestion so much that she has him taken away and tortured in her dungeon blinding him in the process.
Libussa talks lightly to Premysl about Kazi and what she had said, being playful while she does so but he is too concerned with his office, the rule of law, nation building and the security of his position. Libussa now has less responsibility and more freedom, and she leaves feeling distant and lonely. Later, she behaves playfully with the captain of Premysls guard, and so begins to think of a return to the promiscuity of her youth, as he deals with the headaches of state. There is a reference made somewhere to Kazis prophecy of unhappiness under the King, and this resonates with Libussa as she fights the loneliness through having affairs with the staff. Maybe we intercut this scene of Libussa playfully seducing the captain of Premysls guard with the blinding/torture of Domoslaus scene at Wlascas stronghold to imply that the dark magic is at the center of Libussas lust, which threatens to divide the house of Premysl. When Premysl discovers Libussa has slept with a member of his staff or the court, he beats him to a pulp and drowns him in the river, or throws him off the battlements into the moat, and he himself seems possessed by the darkness (the greed and selfishness) which is sweeping the land.
Card: 6: WLASCA
Wlascas hate against the new kingdom and rules find a first climax when they crucify the missionary Trinitas upside down where two roads meet.
The message travels to Libussa. She makes the conclusion that it was the work of Wlasca and understands it as a sort of declaration of war.
Libussa goes herself to visit Wlasca, wondering how things have changed so. She finds her bitter and surrounded by fanatics, and tries to talk her back to the middle ground but Wlasca is certain that the land should be governed not only by a woman, but by her, and she has Libussas sisters support. Since being blinded, Domaslaus is hanging around Wlascas court like some sort of beggar. Wlasca tells Libussa what she did to Domaslaus and why. And she tells her that war is coming.
The maiden war starts but not full scale battles or even guerrilla warfare it is clever targeting of those with political power involving trickery, seduction and assassination. Libussa is angry at both Wlasca and Premysl as they vow to destroy each other. Premysl begins to worry and takes some of his anger out on Libussa. They have a huge argument Libussa is now pregnant with Premsyls son (although Premysl wonders which member of the court is really the father). Libussa asks if this land of conflict and division is what he wants for his son, a land of greed, and because of this weaker of heart. She feels there are forces on their borders just waiting for the right moment to charge in and take everything away from them.
Libussas melancholy, which has always been part of her personality, is reaching saturation point Libussa still misses her father, she is lonely in her position at the top, distant from her husband, estranged from her sisters, the land is in turmoil and has she lost the confidence of Wlasca through the pain that her friend has suffered through their changing fortunes.
Wlasca wages an effective campaign of espionage and seductive trickery and becomes a real headache for Premysl. But she goes too far when, after the seduction of popular playboy Citrad by a naked Stratka in the woods, Citrad has his throat slit and Wlasca sends his head to Premysl. The men of the land are outraged and launch an all out attack on Wlascas stronghold in the mountains.
Wlasca dies in the attack, falling amongst the ranks of furious men, overestimating the strength of her fellow women and being cut to ribbons in the battle.
Card: 7: NEZAMYSL
Libussa and Premysl walk the battlefield and hear the story of the carnage, and of Wlascas unsightly end. They see Stratkas distinctive scarf which she always wore over the scars of her neck in the mud. They cannot find her body as she was cut to pieces when the men overwhelmed her. Libussa is now heavily pregnant, and as they survey the bodies and the blood, Premysl swears that he will govern more wisely, in order to create a gentler world in which his son can grow.
Libussa returns to Premysl, and now Wlasca is gone and the terrible carnage has woken Premysl up to the difficulty of building a utopia as Libussa had tried to. They talk about how they lost their way. Although she wants to believe the way ahead will be better, Libussa looks into the future and foresees bloodshed, for many generations to come.
Libussa travels to see Kazi, to talk about how things might change, but she finds her sister to now be totally insane, and dying from disease and starvation. She is reminded of the potion she once traveled out to find for her dying father, to relieve him of his misery, and she sets off to find it by the river nearby.
She gathers the herbs by the river, imagining that the huge conflicts of her life have somehow been resolved and that Kazis peaceful end might finally close the book on years of turmoil. She tells these thought to her mother the river.
Suddenly, from the dark edge of the forest, the dark shape of the bear appears and roars at her. Again the bear attacks like in the beginning of the film and this time he clips her on the head with its giant paw and almost knocks her unconscious. She staggers away, slipping on the shale as she did the first time this happened. But her wound this time is much more serious. She wavers as the blood loss continues, then seems to hear the water calling and lets herself tip slowly towards it, this time with a sense of finality, then plunges in.
She drowns, a stream of blood mixing with the river water from the gash in her head. As she goes down, she catches glimpses of her life, of her sisters, of old Krok and Premysl and Wlasca, of the many seductions and lovers throughout her years as queen. The sound of her mothers singing fuses these images together, and the light above the water begins to fade as she sinks to the river bed.
While this happens below, the surface of the water seems serene and peaceful.
Premysl appears with a young boy, his son NEZAMYSL it is clear that a few years have passed since we saw him last. He tells the boy how his mother is always close to him, because this river is her spirit, and it flows through their country as its heart. The boy is fascinated and Premysl goes on mythologizing Libussa and her mysterious end. Then he starts to tell him that his grandmother was a tree elf. The boy is really captivated now, and as Premysl goes on talking he glances across the river and sees a great white stallion drinking at the bank. The stallion turns and rides away into the forest as the boy asks more questions about his familys past. Premysl knows that the old world has passed.
LIST OF CHARACTERS:
KING KROK KAZI, the eldest TETA, the middle sister, high priestess of the realm. LIBUSSA, the youngest, the prettiest, the wisest. WLASCA, Libussas sword, protector and best friend. PREMYSL, Libussas husband
The Slavic leaders and folks: WRSCHOWETZ and DOMASLAUS, young, proud and ambitious, stand out amongst the six tribal leaders.
ROZHON, a miner, and SLAWOSCH, a handsome farmer, who trigger the land war.
TRINITAS, the Christian missionary.
20 extras to play farmers, soldiers and miners. The maiden:
STRATKA, a tormented femme fatale, who hates men. Wlascas right hand.
SCHARKA, a masked maiden and fierce fighter.
20 non speaking female warrior extras.
THE CHANGING, GROWING WHITE HORSE NOT ONLY THE SPIRIT OF HER FATHER AND A SIGN OF VIRILITY, BUT A METAPHOR FOR THE EMERGING NATION AS IT BECOMES FORMIDABLE.
A BEAUTIFUL SHADOW OF A PRINCESS LURING MEN INTO THE RIVER AND SEDUCING THEM AS THEY DROWN
THE CLOAKED FIGURE OF LIBUSSA GALLOPING BY NIGHT FOR A COVERT RENDEZVOUS WITH PREMYSL
THE GRUESOME DEATHS IF WE DID LIKE GODFATHER 2 AND MADE EACH ONE REALLY UNIQUE AND MEMORABLE
DAYDREAMS AND MEMORIES
although alternatively we could sew in a series of memories of time Libussa spent with Krok (ie. remembering words of wisdom and tender moments) perhaps memories she revisits in time of need or worry including Kroks tale of the tree elf mother, and the eco-message story about the spring being her tears in seeing her forested homeland destroyed. All this could be shown in the form of dreams or daydreams throughout the film during moments when Libussa is alone (during her reign).
(This flashback device would definitely be helpful in writing up some of my ideas on Kroks theories of prophecy, and how this is often simply elaborate daydreaming of ideals and goals which he then has the will and ability to make happen thus becoming self fulfilling prophecies, and blurring the lines between these ideas. (ala Martin Luther King I have a dream) As we discussed earlier, I really like the idea that magic and supernatural things do occur in the world (and lurk in the depths of the forest), and Krok has always been hailed as a great sorcerer, but really he is simply an exceptional human being with great intelligence and imagination, a kind of Wizard of Oz, and these are the gifts which he passed on to his daughter. I like this because for me, the character who accomplishes great things with no more than the basic tools which any one of us can access and learn to use imagination, kindness, charm, drive, chutzpah, moxie, etc. is far more interesting than one who is gifted with supernatural or superhuman powers.)
(As the pagan world we are writing about did not understand the brain as we now do, and did not see a dream (even a daydream) as something different to a prophecy, or a wandering of their spirit or some kind of supernatural insight, that we could paint a picture of this world as one in which flights of the imagination were often then interpreted as or described as visions and that Libussa is essentially an incredible imaginative and bright young woman, who often dreams up things like where to mine for precious metals, or where to build a great city, and her proclamations are then hailed as great insights into the future this is how a legend becomes a legend)
In one of these memories, Libussa remembers her father warning her to take care in that forest that you can never know what might be lurking behind the next tree and she has a response which is echoed in her reply on his death bed
King Krok on a white horse, Libussa, a little girl of 10 years, ridding between his legs. The two ride through the countryside. King Krok explains some of the mysteries of nature to his daughter. They also see some men working the fields among them young Premysl, 10 years old, with his dad.
dreaming almost abstract dreams of floating in water throughout the film, like a vision (of her death) or memory of her birth (we can hear muffled sounds of her mothers voice in the dream and she can be in a foetus position while dreaming).
This special place, where he remembers fondly his wife and where, he still maintains, he was blessed by elfin magic with the good fortune and wisdom that saw him prosper and eventually become King, and where he has held court and accepted tributes from tribal leaders ever since.
One memory of herself as a young girl swimming at the spring, and ducking under the water, floating on the surface with the water lapping around her ears
When they were kids, Wlasca saved Libussa and they exchanged blood.
Krok invented the story of the tree elf, and explained that she passed away when her heart was broken by the deforestation, etc. And cried a river of tears
Following on from the wizard of oz idea of krok - krok has always told libussa of the power of mystery, of a riddle. She uses this idea to create mystique, to manage her power, and to inspire.
THE RIVER MOLDAU should be featured throughout the film in changing seasons and weather because of its importance to the Czech, the city of Prague and the Libussa legend.
best way to deal with the vision of Prague is have it as a reoccurring theme
nature. like in the herzog film nature needs to be consistent and powerful. all the big scenes involving tribal leaders and extras should be filmed either at night (oak tree scenes), in twilight (maybe we can mist everything up).
The horse should be free and only comes out of the wilderness when Libussa calls it.
PASSAGE OF TIME
the time passing - come back to the white horse at the beginning of a scene in a new time, and show how it has grown, and then when grown show it being broken in,