Dániel Kovács

Film: Resort (Martin Hrubý, 2014, 24’)

Saturday March 7 – 18:45

Often enough, one ignores the fact that even historic figures had private lives –  perhaps this is at least partly due to how preoccupied we are with our own. They too had rushed to pick up kids from school, bickered with spouses, gone to the movies, done their washing and cooking and ironing. In better times, they too would take family vacations. For Hungary’s state socialist elite under János Kádár, this would involve a heavily guarded resort complex at Balatonaliga, by the ‘Hungarian Sea’; the Czechoslovakian party elite would retire to a similar holiday arrangement in the South Bohemian mountains, beside the Orlík reservoir.

Martin Hrubý’s film deals with the story of the Orlík resort, complementing the period’s promotional texts with poetic footage of the buildings’ present-day demise, and fond reminiscences with powerful images of nature reclaim-ing its own. While we in Hungary have yet to give an account of the exclusive Aliga resort, we now have some fascinating insights to its South Bohemian counterpart. Its construction commenced immediately after the reservoir was finally finished in 1961. To spare expenses, the Czechoslovakian state commissioned convicted engineers and skilled labor to the site: word had it that the boon of high quality unpayed labor was the very motivation behind many a show trial.

The complex was designed by resort specialist Jaroslav Vaculík, himself a student of Le Corbusier. In the late 1950’s by some mischance Vaculík was accused of embezzlement and promptly detained, though he was eventually released on parole. The entire resort complex was state-of-the-art and is still a wonder to behold: compared to the hodgepodge repairs on the Aliga grounds, this is a unified and well-preserved monument of imaginative Czechoslovakian modernist architecture.

Being an exclusive resort for elite party functionaries, Orlík was frequented by the likes of Communist Party premiere  Antonín Novotný and his successor under the years of ‘normalization’ following 1968-69, Gustáv Husák. Following the system change, while Aliga was privatized and left to dismantlement and eventual ruin, most of the Orlík villas were passed from the Czech state to the reinstated old upper crust. The neighboring forests were returned to the Schwarzenberg family, while the premises were guarded by the men of one Radovan Krejčíř, shown in the film to be among the richest men in the Czech Republic of the nineties and a bigtime mobster, finally forced into emigration. Most of these villas stand empty today, while the main building operates as Hotel Orlík, steering daintily clear of Czechoslovak nostalgia and aligning apolitically. It seems to have found the right track.