Dramatic events tied to the assassination of Nazi Reichsprotektor Reinhard Heydrich inspired a remarkable film in 1964, brought to life by director Jiří Sequens. The most celebrated title in his extensive filmography, it depicts Operation Anthropoid, the biggest and most important mission carried out by the anti-fascist resistance under the Czechoslovak government in-exile of President Edvard Beneš. Unlike other films of its era exploring Second World War themes, Atentát (The Assassination) did not note the role the communist resistance played in the fight against Nazism. For that reason, the screenplay could not be approved in the late 1950s and was not realised until after the easing of political censorship. But to show that in the Protectorate there were other effective forms of resistance was of course in 1964 too daring. The film reconstructs the preparation for the operation, its implementation in May 1942, the harsh repression that followed Heydrich’s death and the frantic search for the perpetrators – the paratroopers who successfully carried out the assassination – and the disclosure of their hideout and the taking of their own lives. Sequens shot the film in black and white and a widescreen format, and reconstructed the events with the precision of a documentarist. During the production use was made of a series of frames based on photographs from the Gestapo’s archives (the positions of cars on the street also played an important role for him), the testimony of witnesses and many other sources. Shooting from the actual spot where the events took place also helped the director obtain a realistic result. The film in this way preserved images of the places where the assassination and related events unfolded (despite the topography having changed due to later construction). The names of the paratroopers, however, were altered for the film (instead of Kubiš, Gabčík and Valčík, the protagonists are called Král, Strnad and Vyskočil). The dedication of the true fallen heroes was captured by actors Radoslav Brzobohatý, Rudolf Jelínek and Ladislav Mrkvička, respectively.
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