by KE Monahan Huntley

"The Lord is my shepherd/I shall not want." This is the hymn to which musician Franta Louka (main character) plays (mc concern-doing), but they are not the words by which he lives. Louka is a virtuoso cellist (mc thematic issue-experience) reduced to "fiddling at funerals" (mc thematic counterpoint-skill) for political reasons. Writer (and star) Zdenek Severak, and director Jan Severak, set their 1996 Academy award winning film Kolya in Russian occupied Czechoslovakia. Radio Free Europe broadcasts:

Socialism: Our Unwavering Security (objective story thematic counterpoint). Czechoslovak socialism is undergoing cosmetic democratization. Economically insufficient, it has no regard for human dignity. The system (os domain universe) is nearing collapse (os concern-progress).

Louka exemplifies what is happening in Prague of 1988. Stripped of his personal dignity, financial freedom, and any inclination toward family, he looks blank when a little girl asks: "What do you have?"

The story accelerates (os catalyst-security) once Louka agrees (story driver-decision)--for a considerable sum of money (mc benchmark-obtaining)--to marry a Russian in need of Czech papers:


Nobody will suspect. What's important here is for Maestro Louka to know there'll be no tricks. Divorce in six months, I promise you, that's all.


A fake marriage. Nothing hidden.

The information given to Louka is not completely accurate (mc symptom-non-accurate). Soon after the wedding, his Russian bride, Nadezhda, emigrates to Germany to be with her lover. She leaves her five-year-old son, Kolya (influence character), behind. Once his grandmother suffers from a stroke, Kolya becomes (influence character benchmark) the responsibility of Louka. Out of necessity, the obstinate pair ("I don't speak Russian, you don't speak Czech") (relationship story domain-mind) is inseparable:


Looking after your wife's child makes your marriage look genuine.


To whom, exactly?


The police, when they interrogate you (os symptom-hunch). And they will come. . . . Sooner or they'll come for you (mc problem-determination).

Kolya tests (rs problem) the "Casanova's" (mc critical flaw-desire) bachelor lifestyle. Louka considers the boy a temporary nuisance (ic concern-being)--referring to himself as a "distant father," stepfather, and granddad. Social services cannot immediately take Kolya, and Louka's mother refuses to help: "I won't have a Russian child here."

Kolya's ability (unique ability) to mimic his surroundings reflects Louka's flat existence. This is particularly well illustrated when the boy constructs his version of Louka's life(lessness)--death and sex in the form of a shoebox coffin containing a conquest's black lace panties. Louka develops paternal instincts (rs concern-preconscious) and the "confirmed bachelor" and abandoned child come to trust (rs solution) each other. Louka's true love, Klara, observes: "I never imagined you'd worry (rs thematic issue) like this about someone else's child." Louka replies: "Neither did I."

Eventually, the Department of Social Security comes to place the boy. Louka's immediate response is flight (mc approach-do-er). He and Kolya hide out on the eve of the Velvet Revolution's success (outcome).

Kolya's mother returns for her son. Louka refuses Nadezhda's final payment (mc resolve-change) and offers up the reluctant Kolya-a scene saved from heartbreak by the film's coda: Louka performing in the Czechoslovakian Philharmonic-Klara big with his child, serenely looking on (judgment-good).

Kolya recounts a love story between guardian and child that is universal in the storytelling-its resonance evident in the current films Life is Beautiful (Italy) and Central Station (Brazil). The four throughlines necessary for a Dramatica grand argument are provided--the main character and relationship story throughlines accentuating Kolya's motif.

About the Author

KE Monahan Huntley is an editor and publisher based in Southern California. As one of the original contributors to Dramatica, she helped edit and analyze many of the examples. In addition, her numerous articles provided an insightful "conversational" approach to the theory. Today she can be found at Write Between the Lines or follow her on Twitter @kemhuntley.

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