King Thrushbeard (1984)

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Original title Král Drozdia Brada /
King Thrushbeard
Country of production ČSSR, Germany
Original language Slovak
Year of publication 1984
Length 98 minutes
Age rating FSK 0
Director Miloslav Luther
Script Miloslav Luther,
Milos Ruppelt,
Tibor Vichta
Production Martin Tapák
Music Jirí Stivín
Camera Vladimír Hollos
Edited by Alfréd Bencic
  • Adriana Tarábková: Princess Anna
  • Lukáš Vakulík: King Michael / King Thrushbeard / Beggar
  • Maria Schell: Queen Mary
  • Gerhard Olschewski: King Matthew
  • Zita Furková: actress / cook
  • Marián Labuda: Principal / King Otto / Jailer
  • Bronislav Poloczek: Administrator / Freelancer
  • Ludovít Króner: Dwarf / Prisoner
  • Lubomír Kostelka: Ferryman / Warden
  • Peter Bzdúch: Bear driver / keeper
  • Peter Šimun: Freelancer / Painter
  • František Kovár: Astronomer / Warden
  • Vladimir Cerny: Senior Warden
  • Daniel Králik: Master of Ceremonies
  • Milan Fiabane: Tailor

King Thrushbeard, also known as A Bride for King Thrushbeard, is a 1984 Czechoslovakian-German film adaptation of the Brothers Grimm fairy tale of the same name.


On the occasion of King Michael’s birthday, a troupe of jugglers puts on a play. It is about a haughty princess who mockingly rejects every suitor, no matter how brave and honourable. The people are amused; Queen Mary, Michael’s mother, however, thinks the play is exaggerated. Michael, too, cannot imagine such a proud and spoiled princess. The actors assure them that King Matthew’s daughter, Princess Anne, served as the inspiration for the play. She is very beautiful, they say, but exceedingly haughty and of bad character. Michael wants to make up his own mind, so he travels with the actors to King Matthew’s court. He sticks a false beard to his chin and catches his first glimpse of the princess through a window when she awakens in her bedchamber to a thrush fluttering about. Michael is immediately captivated by her beauty. He officially courts her, but like all other suitors before him, she rejects him and makes fun of him. She would rather marry a beggar than “King Thrushbeard.” Her father is incensed. He has had enough of her arrogance and announces that his daughter will marry the first beggar who crosses the threshold of the castle gate first thing at dawn.

The following morning it is raining cats and dogs and there is not a beggar in sight. A single beggar dressed in rags is finally found. To King Matthew’s surprise, Princess Anne is true to her word and allows herself to be married, albeit reluctantly, to the beggar. Now the newlyweds are to leave the kingdom and cross the border river. In King Michael’s kingdom, the couple settle in a croft. While the beggar, who hides his supposedly disfigured face under his rags, works hard for their survival, Anna refuses to lift a finger. Still, to get her fill, she pays the beggar with her jewelry. When she runs out of jewelry, she searches for food in the forest. There she meets a man who is harvesting honey. She takes a piece of his bread and clumsily breaks a jar of honey. She then tries to wash her dirty dress in the river. When she distracts a passing thrush, her dress floats away in the river’s current. As she now has to tie on the simplest clothes like a beggar woman, she tries to return to her father’s court. But the ferryman has been ordered not to let beggars cross the river. When she asks for lodging with King Michael, he has only a few alms left for her.

Out of necessity, Anna returns to the beggar. He shows her how to make pottery, since they have to earn money to pay their taxes. But instead of saving, Anna buys a new dress with the little money they have. When the king’s bill collectors appear and the beggar cannot pay the taxes, the men take away his food. Anna’s dress is also seized. When the beggar falls ill, Anna goes to the market at the castle with the pottery jars in his place. When she disregards her small stall, it is destroyed, along with the pottery, by a horse-drawn carriage. Because of the unpaid taxes, the king’s steward takes the beggar prisoner and has the croft barricaded.

At the castle, it turns out that the beggar is King Michael in disguise, who wants to teach Princess Anna a lesson with the help of the jugglers. King Matthew is also in on it. In the meantime, Anna gets into the castle, where she lodges with a cook as a helper. One day she brings a cage with a thrush in it. By order of the king, the thrush is to remain a prisoner until he rediscovers his lost appetite. Anna, who is extremely diligent in her duties in the kitchen, repeatedly seeks out the supposed beggar in his dungeon to bring him something to eat. He is the only one who means something to her. When she is also supposed to bring food to the king and he asks what would make her happy, she rushes to the castle kitchen without recognizing him and releases the thrush trapped in the cage. She then goes to the dungeon again, where she no longer finds the beggar, and finally offers to do anything for King Michael in return for his releasing the beggar. That the beggar means more to Anna than her own life proves to Michael that she is no longer haughty and selfish. He ends the masquerade and enlightens her about everything. But instead of falling around his neck, the princess prefers to return to the Kate. There she wants to wait for her beggar, from whom she learned who she really is. As a beggar, Michael returns to her and finds her crying. He professes his love for her and explains that despite all the disguises, he has always remained the same. They kiss and finally ride away in royal robes on a horse-drawn sleigh.


The Arvaburg in Slovakia, a location of the film

Filming took place from October 1983 to January 1984 in Jur nad Hronom, Doľany, at Arwaburg near Oravský Podzámok and in the film studios of Bratislava.

King Thrushbeard premiered in July 1984 in Karlovy Vary at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival. On 24 December 1984, the film was first broadcast on German television by ZDF. Less than a year later, on 13 December 1985, the film was released in GDR cinemas under the title A Bride for King Thrushbeard. It was also released on DVD in 2008 as one of three films in the anthology Die kleine Märchensammlung Vol. 6.


“Beautifully photographed and well-acted fairy-tale film that deftly incorporates period color into the plot,” found the Encyclopedia of International Film.[1] For Cinema, the film was “[k]lug, enchanting and funny”.[2] TV Movie called it “[t]raumhaft schön”.[3]


In 1984, the film received the International Jury Prize in the First Feature Competition of the 24th Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, as well as the main prize at the 24th Children’s Film Festival in Zlín “for an artistically impressive and stylistically clear rendition of a classic fairy tale”.[4][5]

German version

A German dubbed version was made from the dialogue book and under the dialogue direction of Lothar Michael Schmitt.[6]

Roll Cast Voice actor[7]
Princess Anna Adriana Tarábková Constanze Engelbrecht
King Michael / King Thrushbeard / Beggar Lukáš Vakulík Ekkehardt Belle
Principal / King Otto / Jailer Marián Labuda Günter Strack
Astronomer / Keeper František Kovár Klaus Guth
Master of Ceremonies Daniel Králik Kurt Zips

Web links

Individual references

  1. King Thrushbeard. In: encyclopedia ofinternational film. Filmdienst, retrieved 19 February 2020. template:LdiF/maintenance/accessused
  2. King Thrushbeard.In: cinema. Retrieved April 25, 2021.
  3. Cf. from 28 October 2013 in the Web Archive
  4. Cf.
  5. Cf.
  6. Cf. credits of the German version.
  7. King Thrushbeard.In: Deutsche Synchronkartei, retrieved 23 July 2020.