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The funeral guests have been trickling in since 10 am

Last goodbye to the Oscar-winning director Jiří Menzel: He'd have wanted laughter, not tears

Karolína Lišková
18.Sep 2020
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2 minutes
Jiří Menzel v obleku

Although the widow Olga announced immediately after late Jiří Menzel's death on September 5 that there would be no funeral because the Oscar-winning director never wanted one, under pressure from friends and the public, she eventually organized a memorial service in Prague's Rudolfinum. Although the doors to the building opened at 10 am, the flowers had been piling up on the lawn since early in the morning.

Jiří Menzel zemřel 5. září.
Před Rudolfinem lidé pokládají květiny a svíčky.
Do Rudolfina vede červený koberec.

Through social media, Olga asked the public not to bring wreaths; George had been fundamentally opposed to that.

He would have wanted laughter

Menzel was literally a pile of laughs, he was famous for his humor, so he was never one to overindulge in grief.

Prodej rodinného domu, Praha 10 Záběhlice
Prodej rodinného domu, Praha 10 Záběhlice, Praha 10

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Jiří Menzel a jeho rodina.
Jiří Menzel a jeho rodina. Source:

"I ask you this way to please refrain from bringing mourning wreaths. Jirka would like a goodbye where you smile and not cry. Unfortunately, the planned "Celebration of Life" that he wanted is complicated by the situation with covid. At the moment, I don't know yet how it will all turn out. If you like, bring a sunflower or a small flower on Friday, or instead of a wreath, you can send money to the Nedoklubko foundation, which has been supporting parents of preemie babies for 18 years nose and which Jirka was a patron to. Account number: 1171717/0100. Thank you for understanding,"

the widow wrote on Facebook.

The exhibition draws people in front of Rudolfinum

According to eyewitnesses, however, no major rush took place before Rudolfinum. People are literally tricking in, and before they enter the building to write the last goodbye in the book of condolences, they look at the panel exhibition "The Whimsical Years of Jiří Menzel", installed around the lawns. It's extremely successful. On each board there is information about Jiří's films with chronologically arranged photos.

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Panelová výstava Rozmarná léta Jiřího Menzela.
Panelová výstava Rozmarná léta Jiřího Menzela. Source: archiv

"I have to say that the exhibition is really beautiful. I was reminded of all the beautiful films that Mr. Menzel had made, and I even learned something new from the written information and recalled what I already knew. Mr. Menzel was a really great artist,"

revealed a fan of the deceased director, who came from Beroun.

Coronavirus measures

Unfortunately, the coronavirus complicates the last goodbye. All attendees must wear masks and, according to government regulations, enter the building in pairs. It is also preferable that people bring their own stationery. In the condolence book, people write words of praise and admiration or also well-known quotes from his films.

The widow Olga did not show up to Rudolfinum, according to our information she is spending time with her daughters. The family's last goodbye has already taken place. On the other hand, many of his colleagues did come to say goodbye. Among the attendees were, for example, a longtime friend and colleague Viktor Preiss, Anna Geislerová, Aleš Cibulka, cameraman Jaromír Šofr or director Jan Hřebejk.

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Pietní místo v Rudolfinu.
Pietní místo v Rudolfinu. Source: archiv

He was with his family until the last moments

Jiří Menzel left us on Saturday, September 5. In the fall of 2017, he was hospitalized for a brain infection, underwent surgery and was put in a medically induced coma. After several months of treatment, when his health improved, he subsequently returned home to his wife and daughters Anička and Evička, with whom he was until his last moments.

Film director, theater creator and actor Jiří Menzel, as one of the few Czech filmmakers who received an award from the American Film Academy, made Czech cinema famous at the beginning of his career. He received an Oscar for his 1966 film Closely Watched Trains, based on a novel by Bohumil Hrabal. Menzel adapted more of his books to film after. Zdeněk Svěrák provided him with other ideas that led to films that garnered audience success and are still being watched to this day.

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