Kapela to vyhrala
The Band Won It


Release date: not provided
Screenplay: Milos Forman, Josef Skvorecky
Dates of realization planned: 1958–1960

In 1958, Milos Forman and Josef Skvorecky started adapting Skvorecky’s short story Eine kleine Jazzmusik for the screen. “The Band Won It” tells the story of a student jazz band during the Nazi Occupation. Forman and Skvorecky submitted it to Barrandov Film Studios. Because of its antiwar undertones the studio required changes, but the young artists didn’t give up, and continued to rewrite the script. In the end, they even managed to sneak some previously expunged scenes back into the final draft. Nevertheless, right before the film started shooting, the whole project was completely scrapped – there was most probably some intervention from people at the “top” of the political scene. It was rumoured that president Antonin Novotny had heard about the film on the radio and could have been involved in the cancellation.  Skvorecky’s novel was very well known (and strongly criticized by communist politicians) and a satirical book was produced called “Zbabelci” (“Cowards”).

Josef Skvorecky was persecuted and wasn’t allowed to publish. Despite this, he became one the most popular Czech writers of the 1960´s. In the spring of 1968, Skvorecky and Forman met again to work on the screenplay of “Cowards”. Nevertheless, this project ended abruptly due to the turbulent political situation before and after the occupation of Czechoslovakia by the troops of the Warsaw Pact, as well as Skvorecky’s decision to stay in exile.

Milos Forman about the project:

  • “My informers were absolutely sure that Novotny had mixed two different books up by Skvorecky, and, therefore, I immediately started to do my best to work this misunderstanding out. I was in the audiences of many unimportant people first until I finally managed to arrange a meeting with the Secretary of the Cultural-Department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia himself! This powerful “Comrade” surprised me by being a relatively wise man. He listened to my complaints, but then dashed all my hopes once and for all. It was just one sentence he said, but it explained more than thousands of volumes of books about the character of the distributing power in classless society: ‘Comrade Forman, I would like to give you a piece of advice. Forget the whole project and start something else instead. All the things you have mentioned and reasons given are moderate and you are probably right, but believe me – even if you were really right, you wouldn’t find anyone who´d tell Comrade President, that he was wrong.”

Hell Camp


Release date: not provided
Screenplay: Milos Forman, Adam Davidson
Planned realization: 1991

This comedy about an American-Japanese love affair in the world of sumo wrestlers was Forman’s first American screenplay. The film was inspired by a documentary about a Japanese managerial school. Adam Davidson co-wrote the film. The inspiration for the film became a detail in the characterization of Taylor; the young American whose company sends him to Tokyo on business after his marriage break-up. On the plane to Japan, Taylor meets a young overweight boy named Joe who dreams of being a sumo wrestler. When they arrive in Japan, we learn that Joe has no money, and then Taylor is fired from his company. The two crushed men try to drown their sorrows until they meet two Japanese girls.

The picture was funded by TriStar and produced by Michael Hausman. In the end, the project wasn’t completed because of the disapproval of the Japanese Sumo Association. Forman was only told about the official stance of the Association four days before shooting. The representatives of the Association had assumed that the director would rather fulfill their conditions than stop the project, but Forman refused to make the changes. 

Milos Forman about the project:

  • “Good screenplays, which have been offered to me, have required only decent workmanship, but I guess I was just looking for an idea which I could recreate according to my own imagination. I still had a memory of one of Czech Television’s programmes called 60 Minutes (a reportage show) in my head, where a Japanese school for managers somewhere near Fudgijama had been mentioned once before. The school was called Hell Camp, but despite this nickname, all the graduates worshipped their education and I thought it might be a good location for a movie.”
  • “I found my young and talented colleague, Adam Davidson, and in the spring of 1990 we both left for Japan. Sony (the owner of TriStar) found the best interpreters and guides for us and we had all the doors opened for us. Adam Davidson took part in one of the fourteen day courses of Hell Camp and during the time he was in school I was just eating sushi and watching sumo bouts.”
  • „When Hell Camp officials read the script, they realized that their school was not the main focus of the whole film, as they had previously thought. That was because the first inspiration led us on towards different motifs, and in the end the camp became just a setting for our story. But the school management was so disappointed that they didn’t even allow us to film there. So I left for Japan and invited the management out for several extravagant dinners. I was making jokes, drinking beer and other drinks with them and in between toasts I was trying to convince them about my arguments and I also agreed to some minor changes. After a million words were said and several hangovers suffered, the management agreed finally to let us film in their school. “
  • “The Sumo Association didn’t allow us to cooperate with wrestlers. But we could not just leave Sumo wrestling out. Our fragile script required both threads of the plot to be linked gently together. It couldn’t exist without the touching fate of an overweight boy and his dream, whose story everyone could identify with, nor without the ceremonies of the majestic Sumo bout. Because of that, we had to cancel Hell Camp in the end, despite all the transatlantic flights, nervous meetings and false hopes. It was cancelled only four days before filming was due to commence. Two hundred people had lost their jobs and plenty of young unknown actors had lost the chance of becoming a movie star. What concerns myself is that I lost one and half years of my life. And time ticks away faster and faster when you are my age.”


Opera from Bedrich Smetana – Theatre performance

Premiere planned: 17. 11. 2000, The National Theatre, Prague, Czech Republic

In 1998, Jiri Srstka (the contemporary director of The National Theatre) proposed   producing Smetana’s opera “Dalibor” directed by Milos Forman. Forman was a fan of the opera, and agreed to direct. However, he insisted on a radical shortening of the libretto: he planned to skip the story of the lovers; the whole second act and also move one aria to a different part of the plot.  Forman considered the old translation by Erwin Spindler (who translated the libretto from German, originally written by Josef Wenzig back in the 19th century) old-fashioned and not relatable to a contemporary audience. He hired actor and songwriter Jiri Suchy to rewrite the opera.

In order to communicate his intentions for the new performance Forman edited an older version of the “Dalibor” opera and sent it to Prague. The management of the National Theatre and Libor Pesek (the conductor of the performance) agreed to Forman’s concept.

In January 2000 the project was introduced at a press conference for the National Theatre. After the conference, there was a backlash from both experts and the non-professional public. The contemporary Artistic Director of the National Theatre was also against the changes to the opera because of the originals´ role in the national heritage.  In the end, Forman decided to withdraw from the project before the start of rehearsals.

Milos Forman about the project:

  • “When I had the opportunity to do ”Dalibor”, I decided to do this opera in the way I´d always wanted to  see it as a student. I still recall at exactly which moment I would go out to smoke. I was always walking around the foyer during some of the acts, so I wanted to leave these parts out of my version completely. For instance, the whole second act seemed totally unnecessary to me. Escape from the prison tower is being planned, but then we see the escape almost immediately afterwards. Then I wanted to move Dalibor’s aria, which he sings right after he files the bars of his prison cell. At that moment, Dalibor could have just run away, but instead he starts to sing a wonderful ode to freedom, and he sings and sings until the guards realize what is going on and he is imprisoned again. I thought that for this beautiful song I had to find another, more logical moment.”
  • “When I finished with the editing (I had done it quite brutally on my old tape recorder), the opera was 30 minutes shorter, but there was still one hour and forty five minutes of Smetana’s fabulous music there. I sent it back to Prague just to show my intentions. Immediately an answer came back from Libor Pesek, the conductor in charge of my production. He liked my plans and he was looking forward to the cooperation very much. But suddenly and unexpectedly a very sharp “no” was given by the Artistic Director of the National Theatre Opera. Up to that moment I had been dealing with his boss, Jiri Srstka, so maybe the Director of the Opera section felt unappreciated. Well, he said that such editing of Smetana’s work would be impossible, and that this jewel of Czech art couldn´t be sacrificed for the sake of modernity, etc.”
  • “My reasoning was clear:

    ‘Oh please, come on, who nowadays does Shakespeare’s plays in the same way as Shakespeare wrote them? Absolutely no one.’
    ‘But this is not Shakespeare.’
    ‘Well, exactly. This is not even Shakespeare.’
     ‘Exactly! It is Smetana we are talking about!’
    ‘Well, you see then.’
    ‘Do whatever you want to with Shakespeare, but no one is going to touch our  Smetana! Not even a single note will disappear!’

    There wasn’t any other option than to give up on “Dalibor”.”

  • “When I announced my decision to the General Director Srstka, he tried to save everything by making me an offer – a compromise. I could do whatever I desired with “Dalibor”, if the Artistic Director of the Opera section could release his own version of “Dalibor” at the same time. So, in the end, I realized that opera is not a fun game, and that I didn’t want to accept this challenge. I definitely couldn’t afford to duel with someone who was used to ruling the whole National Theatre and who could completely destroy me and my production one way or another.”



Release date: 2005
Screenplay: Milos Forman, Jean-Claude Carrière

This film was adapted from Hungarian novelist Sándora Márai’s novel by Forman’s close friend Jean-Claude Carrière, who had already co-worked with Forman on “Taking Off” (1971) and “Valmont” (1989).  The first day of shooting was supposed to be on October 8th 2003 in the Czech Republic.

The film follows two men in the former Austro-Hungarian Empire from different social backgrounds that become friends in military school. When one marries the girl they both love, they part ways. They meet again 41 years later and talk about love, jealousy and appropriation –reconciliation comes in the end. Forman cast Sean Connery and Maria Brandauer as the main characters. Winona Ryder was cast as their femme fatale.

The film was produced by the Italian producers Robert and Michael Haggiag, and was executively produced by Michael Hausman. Several months before shooting Sean Connery and the Italian producer had a disagreement and Connery withdrew from the project. Milos Forman was so convinced that Sean Connery fit the role that he didn’t want to shoot the film without him. Forman cancelled the project a few days before the shooting was due to start. 

Milos Foman about the project:

  • “I originally received “Embers” from an Italian producer who owned the rights to it. Roberto Haggiag was more than 90 years old, but he had only finished about three or four films, even though his last two movies had been unforgettable – “The Climax” and “Candy”. “Candy” had a star cast, Robert Burton and Marlon Brando, but I was never brave enough to watch it.  Rather, I was trying to persuade myself that Haggiag was looking for redemption of some kind, which he might have seen in “Embers”, and he wanted to finally produce a good film.”
  • “There was a consonance between my own experience and the” Embers” story, and I also had a feeling I might be the right narrator to make the story dramatic. So me and Jean-Claude Carrièr wrote out the screenplay. Haggiag was really enthusiastic about it, so he asked Michael Hausman to start with the production. In my mind the face of Sean Connery came as the old General immediately. I found out he was in New York at that time, so I called him and invited him to talk. Connery came to my home, sat down and we read the whole script together. He played the old General and I played all the other characters. Connery immediately understood the General’s personality and he mastered the character very soon. Right after we had finished reading, he turned back to the first page and said: ‚the reading was so pleasant, that I wouldn’t mind doing it again. It wasn’t until the end when I started to feel sure in the character.‘ Not only did we reread it that day, but Connery came to my apartment also the following day. That time he played the old General as well as the young one from his earlier years. It was a really generous gesture – he showed me what kind of person the General was when he was young. And that morning we also read the script twice.”
  • “At the beginning of the summer of 2004, the “Embers” project had started nicely. I was in London looking for someone who would be suitable for the role of the young General. The task wasn’t easy as the young man was supposed to live up to the memories of the original James Bond. In the end, two candidates were left and I wanted to talk to Connery first and find out whether he had any preferences. I called him, but he was practically whispering as if he were down in the dumps.
    ‘Sean, how are you?’
    ‘Not too good.  Not too good at all.  I’ve just seen the contract and it has nothing in common with the things we had discussed and what I had been promised,’ said Connery.
    I knew that Haggiag was mean even when sending the basic finances for the production, but the name Sean Connery would be the best advertisement for this on-again, off-again producer, who had never achieved much. This must be some kind of misunderstanding’ I told Connery. ‘I’m going to call Haggiag immediately and I’ll settle everything.’”
  • “I called Haggiag and he assured me he had understood completely how important Sean Connery was for “Embers”, and that he would see to everything. But very soon I realized that Haggiag’s son, Michael, had become the producer of our film (which was a complete surprise to me) and that Michael Haggiag had made the promised phone call to Sean. Their conversation was very short and Sean Connery told his manager afterwards that in future he didn’t want to have anything in common with any project connected with the name Haggiag.”

Ghost of Munich


Planned release date: 2010
Screenplay: Milos Forman, Jean-Claude Carrière

The screenplay for “Ghost of Munich” was written by Forman, Jean - Claude Carrier, and Vaclav Havel (the former Czech president and writer). It was inspired by the novel by the French novelist Georges-Marc Benamou.

The story takes a closer look at the events that surrounded the Munich Pact, when Czechoslovakia had to give up the Sudetenland to Nazi Germany in the autumn of 1938. This political decision of three powerful countries – France, Great Britain and Italy – opened the way for Hitler and his invasion of Europe with millions perishing as a result. The film is set in 1968, when a young American journalist interviews the former Prime Minister of France Édouard Daladier who signed the treaty. She hopes he can enlighten her about the real circumstances of this tragic historical moment. Throughout Daladier’s memories we can follow the devastating drama of the fatal day in September 1938. In the book we can also find psychological portraits of those who had taken part in it, and descriptions of their arguments. The novel brings back to life the historical event, which became the symbol of the disgraceful politics of appeasement and breaking international law. 

The role of the French Prime Minister was supposed to have been played by the French actor Mathieu Amalrico with his older self played by Gérard Depardieu. However, the production company Pathé, could not fund the project.

Milos Forman about the project:

  • “The novel, “Ghost of Munich”, which gave us the inspiration for the screenplay, was written by Georges-Marco Benamou, who wanted to be the producer of our movie as well. But then he would have had to have bought the rights for it and for the script from Pathé. This was money he didn’t have and no one was going to give it to him. Of course he could’ve rewritten the script, but nothing from what was already finished was supposed to appear in the newer version. If so, I wouldn’t have had a reason to work on it. Theoretically, the film about the Munich Pact could have been unpleasant for the Germans, the French and the English, so I guess someone was afraid of a significant financial loss.”
  • “Several of my projects have collapsed just like this, with having had everything ready and shooting to have started in just a few days. That’s show business.”