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Bohemian Rhapsody

Ondřej Hudeček, Jan Smutný

Czech Republic


1891. The Czech nation is under German rule. Hope for change is aroused by artist and patriot Ladislav Stroupežnický and his project for the World Expo – the first Czech human zoo. One hundred volunteers come to London to simulate the ideal Czech city, free of German influence.
Shortly before the opening, there is an explosion. Only two survivors remain in the ruins: Ladislav, and actress Anna. Inspector Quinn of Scotland Yard leads the investigation. At first, all signs point to a terrorist attack by Germans – that is, until Anna attempts to kill Ladislav. Under questioning, she fesses up: Ladislav, the ostensible patriot, cruelly sacrificed all 100 participants just to blame the tragedy on the Germans.
But when Ladislav comes out of a coma, he gives Quinn a different version of the events – far worse and more terrifying. Faced with a riddle on whose resolution the repute of the Czech nation hangs, Quinn gets an ever-stronger feeling that the truth lies somewhere else altogether.


In the 1800s, countries held World Expositions to demonstrate their advancement. They included attractions like human zoos – exhibitions of so-called primitives. What if Czechs, as a “primitive” nation under German influence, used the World Expo to make their own human zoo, but only with the aim of pulling one over on everyone?
Tales of nationhood are usually taken so seriously as to become ridiculous. But when you set off from a standpoint that is sarcastic and aloof, you can uncover more serious themes from the bottom up. We succeeded in doing this in the film Peacock (Sundance Short Film Special Jury Award for Best Direction), a dark comedy about the secrets and lies of a real Czech patriot.
Our characters grew up in the era of electricity and modernity. We grew up in an age of video and postmodernism. Why not combine the two? Film the “birth of the nation” as if it were a pop hit, a rollercoaster, a "Bohemian Rhapsody"?

In our story, the truth gets lost amid various perspectives – ultimately, we are left thinking that truth itself is just a well-told lie. To this end, we switch genres, from mystery to paranoid thriller to Greek tragedy. And all the while with a crafty sneer.


A human zoo at the 1891 World Expo goes nuts when it is seemingly attacked by terrorists.
Ondřej Hudeček

Scriptwriter, Film Director

Jan Smutný


production notes

original title
Bohemian Rhapsody

directed by
Ondřej Hudeček

produced bynutprodukce
Bubenska 1
170 00, Prague 7
Czech Republic

written by
Ondřej Hudeček
Jan Smutný

total production budget
€ 4.000.000