Written by Maria Manuella Pache de Athayde


An okay biopic about a remarkable man. Havel chronicles the story of Václav Havel, a Czech playwright who would later become known for his activism. The film recounts his life during the late 60s, 70s, and 80s as Havel became increasingly involved in politics and refused to sign the Warsaw Pact (Operation Danube) in defiance of the Soviet Union and other pact signatories.

Viktor Dovrák’s performance and similarity to Havel is uncanny, but it isn’t enough to sustain a film that could have been so much more. Havel’s efforts as a dissident, activist, playwright, and humanitarian are glossed over in favor of an account of his personal life and internal struggles. Learning about Havel on a personal level would have been more effective if the filmmakers had shown what he accomplished or how these struggles shaped the man we know today.

Instead, Havel’s accomplishments are relegated to the end credits where images of Havel meeting with world leaders are shown. Nowhere in this film, although it’s implied, do we learn about Havel’s influence as a statesman who was described by former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright as a titan of morality, civility, and political courage. I was disappointed because I tend to love films with historical or political leanings.

I still encourage you to watch this film, especially if you appreciate history and personal accounts of political figures. If you are not steeped in the politics and history of Eastern Europe or the Soviet Union, this movie might be a solid introduction. For those who are more familiar, I suspect you might find this film less engaging.


Havel Trailer

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If you’d like to learn more about Havel in his own words follow the links below. The links in this section will direct you to his biography (print), remarks by Secretary Albright, and the link to his foundation.

Written by Havel (if you intend to purchase a work by Havel consider supporting your local bookstore).

Open Letters: Selected Writings, 1965-1990 | Power Of The Powerless | Summer Meditations |Disturbing the Peace: A Conversation with Karel Huizdala |The Garden Party: and Other Plays


Havel: A Life by Michael Zantovsky

Havel is currently awaiting North American Distribution

Visit the Havel Foundation | Secretary Albright’s Remarks in the Spectator and SIPA

Havel is part of the Heartland International Film Festival 2020 line up.

You can follow Maria Manuella Pache de Athayde on LetterboxdTwitter, or Instagram and view more of what she’s up to here.

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