Presented by Cinémathèque Québécoise

The Ninth Heart (Deváté srdce)

Directed by Juraj Herz

North American Premiere of Národní filmový archiv’s New 2K Restoration, Courtesy of Severin Films


Official selection

Salem Horror Festival 2023


Juraj Herz


Josef Hanzlik, Juraj Herz


Josef Kemr, Ondrej Pavelka


Severin Films

Czech Republic 1979 92 mins OV Czech Subtitles : English
Genre HorrorClassiqueFantasyRomance

“An uncanny trip into an underworld of automatons, stolen hearts and magic. It is in THE NINTH HEART that many of Herz’s aesthetic and thematic obsessions converge — puppetry, poverty, imprisonment and death — illuminated by a parade of golden candelabras and a playful sense of the grotesque.“
– Kier-La Janisse

Impoverished prankster student Martin (Ondrej Pavelka) and a world-weary court jester (František Filipovský) might seem like a dubious pair to send off on a deadly quest to save a cursed princess, but that’s exactly what happens when the King gets desperate enough to ask anyone who will go. Saving Princess Adriena (Julie Juristová) from a nefarious rogue astrologer by the name of Count Aldobrini (Juraj Kukura) is the only option the young man has to appease local law enforcement after he makes a foolish mistake. Yet, with eight men already missing, it appears Martin might have given himself a death sentence, all to rescue his friends — including his new girlfriend, a puppeteer called Toncka (Anna Malová) — and himself, from rotting in a jail cell. So it is that the duo travel to Aldobrini’s shadow realm, which is not for the faint of heart, quite literally.

Although director Juraj Herz’s follow-up to BEAUTY AND THE BEAST (1978) holds all the markers of a traditional fairy tale and was originally commissioned as a children’s film, much like its aforementioned stable mate, the director’s predilection for horror shines through. Aspects of dark fantasy are further enhanced by quirky contraptions and gorgeous art set-pieces crafted by the director’s long-time friend and collaborator, director Jan Svankmajer and his wife Eva, a celebrated surrealist artist in her own right, who did the film’s opening montage. Laced with aspects of folk horror, vampirism, and surreal fairy tale, THE NINTH HEART represents a rich showcase for Herz’s particular skill in crafting visually decadent, offbeat Gothic fantasy cinema. That the film was made, and funded, by a government regime that had no interest in commercial horror makes it all the more remarkable and subversive. Presented in a new 2K restoration by Národní filmový archiv, courtesy of Severin Films. – Kat Ellinger