If you notice a giant bust of Russian dictator Joseph Stalin in the Letná area over the coming days, don’t be alarmed: no, you haven’t travelled back in time to the 1950s.
It’s part of filming for the new TV movie Monstrum (Monster) from Czech Television and director Viktor Polesný. The film tells the story of Otakar Švec, the architect who won a competition to build the monument and killed himself the day before it’s unveiling.
Jan Novotný stars as the architect, portrayed as a man struggling to maintain his personal and professional dignity in the face of his controversial task. Zuzana Stivínová and Martin Kraus co-star as his wife and student, respectively.
While filmmakers have crafted a six-meter-tall bust of Stalin, it’s not an exact replica of the original monument: digital trickery will be used to fill in the rest of the statue.
“We created Stalin’s head, which is six meters tall. It will further be supported by an additional six meters of scaffolding. We will then recreate the monument, which was approximately 15 meters tall, by using digital tricks. Even so, it will probably be an unmissable sight for Prague's residents,” said executive producer Martin Lubomírský.
Because technical documentation about the monument was not preserved, the filmmakers have crafted the replica using archival material including photographs and films.
The Stalin monument – the world’s largest representation of Stalin, and the largest group statue in Europe at the time – towered above Letná from 1955 to 1962, when the monument was blown up with dynamite following long-brewing backlash against Stalin’s cult of personality.
The filmmakers behind Monstrum plan to blow up their replica, too.
Long abandoned, the huge concrete pedestal where the monument stood has been home to Prague’s famed metronome since 1991. Briefly in 1996, it was home to an 11-meter tall statue of Michael Jackson to promote the HIStory tour.
Over the past two years, the area has scene resurgence in popularity as an arts venue and nightlife destination nicknamed, naturally, Stalin.