Cast & Crew
One evening, three men give fisherman Yanos Gaboj a ride in a motorboat to his home on the banks of the Danube in rural Czechoslovakia. After being treated coldly by a woman working at the well, Yanos enters his home and dismisses his teenaged son Peter. Yanos tends to his wife Zuzka, gravely ill from typhus, and tells her that he has the expensive medicine prescribed by their doctor. The trusting, peasant-like Zuzka confesses that she promised the Virgin Mary to give all her money to the church if she survives, and despite his apparent anger, Yanos swears that he would do anything to help Zuzka recover. Yanos mixes the powdered medicine in a cup but before he can give it to Zuzka, she hears shouting and asks him to investigate, then return to administer the draft. Outside, Yanos' father-in-law, Michael, screams that Anada, the woman at the well, has thrown herself into the river. Yanos rushes into the current, but is unable to find her and almost drowns. When Yanos revives, he finds himself on the shore near the campfire of three odd, accusatory men, who interrogate him about his and Anada's actions. One of the men, a stutterer, is more gentle and tells him that Anada did not suffer, but the others brusquely question him about why she would commit suicide, or if she was murdered, despite Yanos' protestations that he remembers nothing. When one warns that anything Yanos says can be used against him, he remembers the day he found Anada: As he works on the riverbank, Yanos hears calls for help from Michael and Peter, who have spotted a floating body. Yanos rows with them to the middle of the river and pulls out the naked Anada. On the shore, the men despair that Anada is dead, but Zuzka determines that the lovely young woman is alive, and revives her. Although Yanos is wary of the stranger and insists that they need to report her to the authorities, the lonely Zuzka is happy to have another woman there. Weary and confused, Anada tells them her name but nothing else, and the standoffish Yanos refuses to press for more information. Back at the campfire, Yanos questions the men's right to judge him, while they in turn ask why he never reported Anada, even though she stayed for several months. When one man accuses Yanos of being a liar, he continues with his story: Soon after Anada's arrival, Zuzka makes her a bedroom in the storeroom, and Yanos acquiesces to his wife's plea to let her new friend stay. Although the men mock Yanos for his profession of love for Zuzka, and for blaming Anada's continued presence on his wife, the fisherman insists that he wanted her to leave. One afternoon, Zuzka misplaces some cash, and Yanos suspects Anada. After Yanos tears apart her room, the taciturn Anada enters without a word, while Zuzka announces that she has found the money. That night at dinner, Yanos thinks to himself that Anada is making a fool of him, and disparagingly compares the way Zuzka uses both hands to eat while Anada delicately toys with her food. Yanos then protests to the men that Anada treated Zuzka like a maid and played upon her "stupidity," and the most cruel of the three asks him how he planned to "get rid" of the stranger. Yanos describes how, soon after the incident with the money, the family attends a church festival, at which he hopes that someone can recognize Anada. He is disgruntled when Anada exchanges a lingering glance with Kristof, an old friend of Yanos who has returned after a long absence. Kristof, a wealthy land owner, remembers Yanos from their childhood, but Yanos is reluctant to question him about his possible recognition of Anada. Later, Yanos is collecting firewood when he spots Anada bathing naked in the river. He hides to watch her, but upon hearing a noise in the brush, chases fruitlessly after the observer and later, at dinner, examines his lecherous father-in-law for telltale scratches from the brush. Michael is innocent, however, and while Yanos broods, Zuzka gossips about Kristof, who, despite being partially blinded in a recent automobile accident, would make a good husband. Yanos jealously realizes that Zuzka is hinting to Anada that she marry Kristof, and his paranoia causes him to yell at the family. Later, Yanos plans on telling Anada that she must leave, but upon confronting her, kisses her instead. Anada walks away impassively, and later, when Yanos returns home from fishing, Zuzka wants to make love but Yanos is impotent. As time passes, Zuzka and Anada's friendship grows stronger, while Yanos becomes debilitated by his desire for Anada. One evening, he sees Kristof lurking nearby, teasing someone about being late for their rendezvous. Yanos assumes that Kristof has been meeting Anada, and in the morning, asks her where she was the previous evening. Anada replies that she was by the water, alone, but Yanos refuses to believe her. Zuzka confirms Yanos' suspicion that Kristof has been "prowling around," and the infuriated Yanos screams that he will not tolerate Anada's "whoring." When Yanos slaps Anada to provoke her, she says nothing, and later, he sees Kristof with Peter. Although Yanos begs the three men to tell him what went on between Kristof and Anada, they assert that they know only what he knows. Determined to be rid of Kristof, Yanos takes him fishing but when Kristof nearly falls overboard, Yanos cannot stop himself from saving him. Unable to bear his torment, Yanos packs and goes to town, intending to travel far away. As he walks through town, however, he spots an expensive necklace and buys it for Anada. When he gives it to her, though, she tells him that it means nothing to her, and during dinner, the devastated Yanos barely listens as Zuzka laments that Peter has left home without explanation. Yanos then eavesdrops as Michael tells Anada that they both will have to leave because neither of them belongs there, but the woman replies that she does not care where she is. Although Yanos chases after Anada with an ax, he assures the three men that there are some things he is not capable of, and some time later, Anada instructs Yanos to come to her that night. The couple spends the night making love, but in the morning, Anada informs Yanos that she will be leaving that day. At the campfire, the men laugh and prepare to depart, but Yanos begs them to stay, pleading that he can make everything "right." Even though they state that he is wasting their time because Anada left of her own accord, Yanos reveals that she stayed because Zuzka fell ill with typhus: Because Zuzka is not expected to live, Peter comes home, while Yanos worries how he will protect her from learning of his infidelity. Due to Anada's dedicated nursing, Zuzka recovers, and the doctor prescribes an expensive medication that can be deadly if not administered correctly. Yanos wonders if it would be better if Zuzka died, however, so that she could never be hurt by his secret. Yanos goes to town and, after selling the necklace back to the jeweler for less than half of what he paid, buys the medicine, which the pharmacist cautions will cause death if the patient is given too much. Despondent, Yanos stops at a tavern and there is accosted by three men: a stutterer who tries to make friends with him, a caustic man whom the stutterer calls Balthazar, and their tough leader, the helmsman, whom he calls Melchior. The men claim that they wander from town to town, seeking out birth and death by attending christenings, weddings and funerals so that they have an excuse to drink. After Yanos passes out, they put him in their motorboat and take him home. When he lands, Yanos attempts to tell Anada, who is working at the well, that he will fix everything, but she rejects him. Upon entering the house, Yanos tells Peter to go outside, then awakens Zuzka to inform her that he has her medicine. Thinking to himself that it is better to die happy than to live long, Yanos fixes Zuzka's medicine, pouring all of the powder into one cup as she tells him about her promise to the Virgin Mary. At the campfire, Yanos screams in despair for the three departed men to return and not judge him, while at the house, Zuzka tells Yanos that she hears someone yelling. Leaving the cup and its poisonous contents, Yanos goes outside, and later, revives on the shore by his home and wonders how long he had been unconscious. Musing to himself that he does not know if Anada even existed, he insists that Zuzka must never know about his affair, and that tomorrow he will carry his wife into the sunshine. Yanos then begins to run toward the house, but as he screams Zuzka's name, the house grows farther and farther away, no matter how quickly he runs.
Elmar Klos Jr.
Judd L. Pollock
Production was suspended in 1968 during the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia because a temporary military bridge had been erected across the Danube at the filming location. Production resumed in 1970, and the film was released in 1971.
The working title of this Czechoslovakian-U.S. co-production was Adrift in the Water and it was released in Czechoslovakia as Touha zvaná Anada. Although there is a 1971 copyright statement for MPO Productions, Inc. in the opening credits, the picture was not registered for copyright. The film's non-traditional narrative flashes backward and forward in time, and frequently jumps between the sequences in which the main story occurs and those in which "Yanos Gaboj" tells the three men about his family and their problems. Often it seems as if the three men are commenting on the action as it happens. It is indicated that the three men, who are the same men Yanos meets in the tavern, are not real, and that Yanos has invented their inquisition while wrestling with his conscience.
The opening sequence, in which Yanos returns home from town with the medicine, is repeated at the end, when it is revealed that Yanos mixes a lethal dose of the medication. It is not clearly stated, however, that Yanos poisons "Zuzka," or that "Anada" is real, and commits suicide or is killed by Yanos. It is suggested but not confirmed that instead of Anada, "Kristof" is secretly meeting with Yanos and Zuzka's son "Peter," and that Peter leaves home to be with the older man.
Although contemporary reviews, as well as the film's program, spell the characters' names as listed above, there are no onscreen character names within the credits, and the onscreen subtitles differ in that Yanos' name is spelled Jano, and Kristof is spelled Christophe. The Variety review reported that Elmar Klos, who is credited onscreen as "associate director" and with co-writing the screenplay, functioned "more on the lines of a producer, although Julius Potocsny gets this billing." Potocsny was an executive with MPO Videotronics, the American company co-financing the picture.
As noted by contemporary sources, Adrift marked the first motion picture co-production between Czechoslovakia and the United States. In February 1967, Hollywood Reporter and Daily Variety announced that MPO Videotronics, one of the largest American producers of television commercials and industrial films, had signed prominent Czechoslovakian directors Ján Kadár and Elmar Klos to an exclusive one-year contract. According to a August 21, 1968 Variety article, Cinema 5 also provided some of the financing for the film, which was mostly shared between MPO and Studio Barrandov, although Cinema 5 had no creative input and would not share in any profits other than those from the U.S.
Although a June 1967 New York Times article reported that Kadár and Klos would be writing the screenplay with Fred Haines, Haines's contribution to the completed film is doubtful. The article also noted that the film was to be in English, while the August 1968 Variety article reported that Kadár planned on producing Czech and English-language versions, both of which would be distributed in the U.S. According to a June 1971 Box Office article, "the English version was abandoned" and the film was completely dubbed in Czech. The finished picture was distributed in the U.S. with English subtitles.
According to Filmfacts and other contemporary sources, the picture was twenty-five percent completed when, on August 20, 1968, the Soviet Union invaded Czechoslovakia and production had to be shut down. Kadár then came to the U.S., where he directed his first English-language film, The Angel Levine, which was released in 1970 (see below). In mid-1969, however, after Russian restrictions in Czechoslovakia were relaxed, Kadár was able to return to his native country. Assembling the same cast and crew, Kadár finished production on Adrift, which was filmed on location on the banks of the Danube, just north of the town of Bratislava, and at Studio Barrandov in Prague.
According to Filmfacts, Adrift had established a record as the longest-running Czech film in its native country but was "pulled out of Prague theatres and banned in Czechoslovakia" because Kadár was considered to be "a defector" due to his prolonged absence from his home. Prior to the film's general release in New York, it was shown at a series of benefit performances for the Guggenheim Museum.
The picture, which received mostly laudatory reviews, marked the first film to be distributed by MPO Productions, a subsidiary of MPO Videotronics. Although the onscreen credits "introduce" model Paula Pritchett, she had previously appeared in the 1967 film Chappaqua (see below). The Cue review noted that although Pritchett was dubbed into Czech for Adrift, Kadár had her say her lines phonetically rather than in English, so that the dubbing would match her mouth movements. Adrift marked the last collaboration between Kadár and Klos, who first began working together in 1952 and made several documentaries and feature films together, including the 1966 Academy-Award winning picture The Shop on Main Street (see below).
Released in United States 1971
Began production in 1968.
Completed production in 1969.
Released in United States 1971