The Valley of the Bees

  (Redirected from Údolí včel)

The Valley of the Bees (Czech: Údolí včel) is a 1967 Czechoslovak historical drama film directed by František Vláčil. The boy Ondřej grows to manhood in a harsh religious order, where, with a hint of homoerotic tension, a Teutonic knight and veteran of the crusades becomes his mentor. When Ondřej eventually flees this life to which he was forcibly consigned, settling in the castle of his childhood to marry his father’s young widow, it becomes clear that his unforgiving mentor is prepared to pursue him to the ends of the earth.

The Valley of the Bees
Údolí včel film poster 1967 Czech film.jpg
Directed byFrantišek Vláčil
Produced byVěra Kadlecová
Written byVladimír Körner, František Vláčil
StarringPetr Čepek, Jan Kačer
Music byZdeněk Liška
CinematographyFrantišek Uldrich
Edited byMiroslav Hájek
Distributed byÚstřední půjčovna filmů
Release date
17 May 1967
Running time
97 Minutes

This film was written by Vladimír Körner. Theodor Pištěk designed the costumes for the film.



Th film is set in 13th century. Lord of Vlkov marries much younger Lenora. He almost kills his son Ondřej who scares her by his gift. He prays for the boy to survive. He promises to God that he will give Ondřej to Teutonic Order if he survives. Ondřej is healed and sent to the Baltic Sea when he joins Teutonic Order. He befriends Armin who becomes his mentor and protector. Armin participated in crusades to Jerusalem and is a fanatic who is devoted to God.

Knight Rotgier tries to leave the order and escapes. Ondřej, Armin and other members chase him. He is found by Ondřej and tries to convince Ondřej to leave the order. Ondřej hesitates to arrest him but declines. Rotgier injures him and steals his horse. Rotgier is eventually captured and executed for attacking Ondřej. Ondřej is punished by penitence for his weakness. Ondřej decides to run away. Armin decides to track him down.

Armin travels to Bohemia where he hears about Ondřej from charcoal burners who wanted to steal his sword. Armin joins them and when they surprise Ondřej, he attacks the one who wanted to steal his sword which makes the other charcoal burners attack him. But Armin draws his sword and kills or scares them away saving Ondřej's life. Ondřej's sword has been broken in the fight and Armin forces him to go with him. Later, near a brook when Armin bends over to drink, Ondřej hits him with a stone which causes Armin to fall unconscious and Ondřej escapes.

Ondřej returns home only to find out his father is dead. He takes care of father's business but feels remorse about what he did to Armin. Ondřej falls in love with Lenora and convinces local priest to marry them. When they are getting married, Armin shows up. Ondřej invites him to the wedding but tension between them runs out. Ondřej convinces Armin to spend the night in Vlkov. During the night, Armin gets to Lenora's chambers and murders her. He gets caught and Ondřej decides to execute him in a similar manner as Rotgier was killed. Armin begs Ondřej to return to the order before his death. The film concludes with Ondřej's return to Teutonic Order.



The film was produced after Vláčil's previous film Marketa Lazarová. The film was very expensive and Barrandov Studios ordered Vláčil to make another film set in Medieval so properties and costumes would be used in another film. Crew couldn't shoot in the same location because scenery was stolen.[1] The film was eventually shot at Church Kuklov near Brloh. Some parts were shot in Poland.[2]

Jan Kačer was chosen to star as Armin and Ondřej. It proved to be technically impossible for him to ply both characters. Kačer then suggested Petr Čepek to play Ondřej.[1]


Critical reception at the time of release was negative. Critical opinion later changed and The Valley of the Bees is considered one of Vláčil's best films.[3][1][4]

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  1. ^ a b c "Peripetie Údolí včel: Tlustý Kačer, šeredný Čepek a zpitý svéráz Vláčil mezi nevybuchlými minami... -". Retrieved 16 July 2017.
  2. ^ "Zříceninu Kuklov změnili filmaři na středověkou tvrz z Údolí včel". 7 July 2016. Retrieved 16 July 2017.
  3. ^ televize, Česká. "Střet fanatismu s touhou po svobodě v Údolí včel". ČT24 (in Czech). Retrieved 16 July 2017.
  4. ^ "František Vláčil: Údolí včel". (in Czech). Retrieved 16 July 2017.