The Three Veterans

A story of three soldiers, discharged with honours, who now have to learn to appreciate the magical gift of life all over again.

This penultimate film from director Oldřich Lipský is a loose adaptation of a short story of the same name by actor and author Jan Werich (it is found in Werich’s 1960 anthology novel Fimfárum). Tři veteráni (The Three Veterans), a fairytale released in 1983, tells the story of three soldiers, discharged with honours, who now have to learn to appreciate the magical gift of life all over again.

Lipský and screenwriter Zdeňek Svěrák team up again for this project, having previously joined forces on Jáchyme, hoď ho do stroje! (Joachim, Throw Him into the Machine!, 1974), “Marečku, podejte mi pero!” (“Mareček, Pass Me the Pen!”, 1976) and Ať žijí duchové! (Long Live the Ghosts!, 1977). However, in this case, the playful literary source is bolstered with a classic story, making much use of situational and verbal comedy, and also possessing a strong moral. After being released from the army, artilleryman Pankrác, military cook Servác and dragoon Bimbác wander the world aimlessly. But a chance for redemption comes when three elves give them three magical items: a hat, a purse and a harp. However, inside the small kingdom of Monte Albo the three comrades become ensnared by the beautiful but evil princess Bosana and her greedy father. Pride comes before a fall as the three travellers lose their precious gifts. But the elves offer an opportunity for the thieves to receive their just due...

Asides from a witty script, this timeless film from Oldřich Lipský also benefits from several outstanding performances: Rudolf Hrušínský (Pankrác), Petr Čepek (Bimbác) and Josef Somr (Servác). The director also cast countless favourite performers in many smaller roles, including Július Satinský, Milan Lasica, Miloš Kopecký and Lubomír Lipský. But perhaps the greatest attraction of this entertaining fairytale is the long nose that grows on Bosana (Mahulna Bočanová) as a form of punishment, and which swells so pervasively that it soon breaches the borders of neighbouring lands, causing international political tensions in the process. As with Lipský’s detective comedy Adéla ještě nevečeřela (Adela Hasn’t Had Her Supper Yet, 1977) and the Jules Verne adventure Tajemství hradu v Karpatech (The Mystery of the Carpathian Castle, 1981) special effects come by way of iconic filmmaker and artist Jan Švankmajer.

  • Czech Republic
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