A young Jewish boy somewhere in Eastern Europe seeks refuge during World War II where he encounters many different characters.


Václav Marhoul


Jerzy Kosinski (novel), Václav Marhoul (adaptation)
4,478 ( 478)
19 wins & 21 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Petr Kotlár ... Joska
Nina Sunevic Nina Sunevic ... Marta (as Nina Shunevych)
Alla Sokolova Alla Sokolova ... Olga
Stanislav Bilyi Stanislav Bilyi ... Villager
Ostap Dziadek Ostap Dziadek ... Peasant
Zdenek Pecha Zdenek Pecha ... Labourer
Michaela Dolezalová Michaela Dolezalová ... Miller's wife
Udo Kier ... Miller
Lech Dyblik ... Lekh
Jitka Cvancarová ... Ludmila
Daniel Beroun Daniel Beroun ... Tall adolescent
Marika Sarah Procházková ... Woman #1 (as Marika Procházková)
Marie Stripkova Marie Stripkova ... Woman #2
Milan Simácek ... Horse owner
Martin Nahálka Martin Nahálka ... Red partisan commander


In an unidentified area of war-torn Eastern Europe, a young boy is sent by his parents to live in safety with his aunt. But she dies unexpectedly, so he sets off on a journey to return home. He roams alone in a wild and hostile world in which only local rules, prejudices and superstitions apply. His struggle for virtually physical survival after the war turns into a battle of a different type. A battle that he doesn't even realize, a fight with himself, a fight for his soul, for his future. Written by Wiki

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Light is visible only in the dark.


Drama | War


Unrated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


Petr Kotlár, who had no prior acting experience, was cast as the main character when director Václav Marhoul accidentally bumped into him. To find out if Kotlár could mentally handle the horrors in the movie (which was spread out over two years of filming), Marhoul had him psychologically tested prior to the shoot. He passed the test. See more »


After the old man died, Lubina rolled him face down in his grave. The next shot he lies face up. See more »


Referenced in Na plovárne: Na plovárne s Václavem Marhoulem (2018) See more »


Für Elise
Music by Ludwig van Beethoven
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User Reviews

8 December 2020 | by mcmahonjakeSee all my reviews

I'd been excited about this film for many months. No cinema near me could show it as most were closed due to Covid-19, and I then read it would be going straight to sales and streaming. I don't like streaming so, I bought the Blu-ray. The day it came I watched it that evening, and I couldn't look away. Most of you will look away at certain scenes, but I encourage you to try and endure it. The film is another look at the horrors and affects of WWII on Eastern Europe, with a small, almost completely voiceless boy at the centre of it all. He literally walks from place to place and meets the most horrendous people, some of whom are nice to him, and some who are really not.

Jerzy Kosinski wrote The Painted Bird in 1965, and apparently said it was autobiographical, but it was later determined that it was a fictional story. So, don't take this as a true story, though I have no doubt that some of the horrific or similar things you see in the film more than likely were happening to somebody.

The film is shot totally on black and white and looks beautiful. I've watched it three times now. I don't know how, it's a tough watch. But worth it.

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Frequently Asked Questions

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Czech | German | Russian | Latin

Release Date:

17 July 2020 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Painted Bird See more »

Filming Locations:

Dolnoslaskie, Poland See more »


Box Office


CZK175,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$452, 19 July 2020

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
See full technical specs »

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