A lifelong admirer of the theater of the absurd, a man of rare intellect and irony, an essayist and playwright, a dissident and a politician – the last president of Czechoslovakia and the first president of the Czech Republic, Václav Havel has died.
The 75-year-old former political prisoner who had Samuel Beckett dedicate his play Catastrophe to him passed away following an illness.
As a child, the future president wanted to become a film director. His uncle was closely linked to the development of Czechoslovakian film, building up the industry during the First Republic. “Originally, and actually for my entire life, I wanted to be primarily a filmmaker,” Havel was quoted as saying.
His dream came true with Leaving, his first and last directorial debut screened at the Moscow International Film Festival earlier this year.
His intimate Chekhovian collage of life related to an experience which Havel has gone through himself – the loss of power.
The author of over 20 plays wrote the first version of Leaving in the summer of 1989, before the changes that occurred in November, which placed him in the highest office of the Czech state for a long time. Between 1989 and 2003 he was the Czechoslovakian and later the Czech president.
A man of revolutionary change, Havel’s aim in office was to replace the old totalitarian system with the new laws of freedom, democracy and human rights. However, shooting his first feature film, one of the world’s top intellectuals – Havel – kept repeating that he actually did not know how to go about it.