Charles IV

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Charles IV

Year: 2016
Directed by Vladimír Michálek 
Coproduction: Three Brothers Production, Czech Television, RTV Slovakia
Format: Drama 95'
 

Czech king Charles IV. will need all his courage and wit to achieve his ultimate goal, the crown of the Holy Roman Empire, against the wishes of the Pope and his former allies.

Charles IV. has recently become the Bohemian king, one of many steps in his ambitious political plan. Although devastated by the deaths of his father John of Luxembourg, one of his key supporters Balduin, and even his own son Vaclav, he does not lose faith in his humanistic and renaissance picture of a new, better Europe. Rather than allowing the recent misfortunes to weaken him, he instead focuses all his wit and power into the political game that will strengthen the role of the Czech lands and change the rules of the Holy Roman Empire. But this is just the beginning and he knows that being King is not enough…

Synopsis:

14th Century Europe, the most influential man of the Old Continent (and therefore the world) is POPE INNOCENT VI. He is responsible for appointing the Holy Roman Emperor, the only man with power equal to his own.  The roman throne is currently empty and logically the Pope does not want to appoint a new emperor, unless he has to.

The key contender for the Crown is the capable Czech King CHARLES IV. Accompanied by his friend, an Italian sword master JACOPO AZZINI they are almost knocking on the Pope’s door.  Yet, the Pope doesn't like Charles or his modern humanistic ideas that threaten to endanger the old rules.

Charles has recently lost his son and married his bride ANNA SVIDNICKA, a wealthy, young, but bright Polish heiress. The 25-year age gap between the new couple and the circumstances concerns Anna’s confessor and guardian the Bishop (and informer to the Pope), LESZEK OF WALDENBURG. In contrast to Leszek, Anna’s lady in waiting MARGARETA GEYERSBERSKÁ is supportive of the marriage and guide’s Anna through the complexities of marital relations.  Margareta and Jacopo, brought together due to their friends‘ marriage, gradually fall in love themselves.

Although Anna is in many ways still a child, she is smart and feels betrayed and sold, which of course is not a good start for the future…

Italy is divided into two factions. The first, in support of Charles and praying for unity, represented by the Italian poet and politician FRANCESCO PETRARCA and the influential GAMBACORTA and DI SOREGNA families. The opposing faction wants to preserve the current status quo and is headed up by GIACOMO RASPANTI.  If Italy is to unite, Petrarca’s party would need to eliminate the opposition – the upcoming coronation would be a perfect opportunity for this attack.

Petrarca sends a letter to Charles assuring him that he has followers in Italy and encouraging him to come to Rome and claim the Holy Crown.  Leszek informs the Pope that Charles’s letter of response is on its way to Rome via Jacopo.  There is an attack on Jacopo en-route and the letter is intercepted. It states that Charles has declined Petrarca’s challenge and will not be travelling to Italy to take the throne.

However, this was a ruse to trick the Pope and in the meantime Charles has secretly set out on his journey to Rome. This unexpected, deceptive move catches the Pope off guard.  He is furious and sets humiliating coronation conditions and forms a close secret alliance with the Italian opposition supported by the German king.

As the journey progresses, we see Charles and Anna growing closer. Although they still disagree over Leszek’s intentions, it becomes clear that despite his physical flaws, Charles is a charismatic man with a keen strategic mind and a good heart. Anna is no longer just an insulted child. She offers valuable advice to the king and shows empathy to his situation.

The coronation is a success but the loyal noble families and other supporters of the “New Italy” are dissatisfied. They were waiting for Charles to give the command to attack their opposition, but the king disgusted by the outrage ignored their plea for a massacre. Yes, changes must be made, but as a part of the global humanistic European reformation. Their swords are lowered in despair and oath is sworn - Death will await Charles in Pisa.

A plot is formed between Charles’ disillusioned former supporters including Jacopo and Raspanti. They will set fire to Charles’s Pisa accommodation to kill him and his retinue as they sleep. Fortunately they escape the blaze, including Anna who is saved by Leszek. The only victim is Margareta who is tragically killed despite Charles’ attempt to save her

Everything is like a bad dream, suspected traitors are innocent and those who Charles trusted the most have betrayed him. Charles wants to forgive this and leave the country, but the new Emperor mustn‘t show any weakness. Against his own conviction, sword in hand he needs to restore the order in the city. His old friends, including Jacopo, are arrested.

Even though he is disappointed, Charles feels compassion for Jacopo´s nationalistic ideas and wants to release him. The heartbroken Jacopo rejects this offer. Thus the new age of humanism starts with unwanted bloodshed and an execution of seven close ex-allies. Jacopo is among them.

On the glorious arrival to Prague Charles and Anna share a tender moment of understanding as Charles bemoans the monstrosity of power and its many perils. Lit by the shine of the stars, they kiss and retreat towards the silhouette of the Prague Castle seeking the intimacy of its private chambers .....

 



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