General Information about Form and Content of the Project
The name „The Dark Star Quest“ originates from the medieval name for the end of the earth, which was used before the discovery of America. Until then the term Dark Star was used to refer to the end of the world (Finis terrae – Finisterre).
- To present the key places, history, accessible buildings, images and historical documents connected to Jiří of Poděbrady, Lev of Rožmitál and other members of the historical quest, using the medium of documentary film. Also, to present the historical period in question, and the reasons why the quest took place.
- To present the key places, history, accessible buildings, images and historical documents in relation to the countries in which the original quest took place (Germany, Holland, Belgium, England, France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Slovenia, Austria), using the medium of documentary film.
- To create a quality documentary of high artistic and technical merit about the quest, about the places mentioned in the travel journals of Václav Šašek of Bířkov and Gabriel Tetzel of Grafenberg. Other places, objects and events related to the quest will also documented, including the links to Czech history, and Czech participation from that time up to the present day. Also, places which were (or later became) historically, culturally, architecturally, religiously and touristically importent will be included.
At present (September 2007), there are about 720 places on the planned itinerary, which are all connected to the above-mentioned themes and events (for example Celts, Romans, Hussites, Cathars, Templars, Czech Brotherhoods, Alliances between Dynasties, and also sacred pilgrimage sites such as Santiago de Compostela, Fátima, Mariazell, Montserrat, Avignon, Saintes Maries de La Mer, Canterbury, Salisbury and so on).
- The young and unwordly V. Šašek described the different landscapes, unusual fauna and flora, natural phenomena, the location of towns, cities and castles, details of unusual architecture, all with great admiration and a sense of wonder. Very often he was carried away by legends and fables.
In contrast, G. Tetzel was an experienced businessman who spoke several languages. He understood the world of finance and social mores. He was more interested in medieval people's life style and behaviour. He saw himself as a high aristocrat, so he was mainly interested in court culture, chivalry, and the fashions and table etiquette of the aristocracy. In connection with this aspect, our present day Dark Star Quest wants to document (using film) everything through the eyes of a current-day pilgrim and portray the varied landscapes of our quest as authentically as possible, including the people, all levels of cultural and social life, folk festivals, customs and lifestyles, crafts, local cusine and so on. All this will be in addition to the core basic documentary and fact-finding mission. The project will attempt to emphasise our common longing for beauty and happiness, as it is manifest in thousands of different forms created by the human spirit, by both skilled craftsmen and ordinary people, both in reality and in legends.
- The Dark Star Quest will not only attempt to follow the historical route, but it will also attempt to emulate the other intention of the original quest, which was to raise awareness of (and propogate information about) Bohemia and Moravia in foreign countries.
- We hope to achieve this aim in the following ways:
- By presenting the Project The Dark Star Quest on the Internet on our own website in several languages, where in addition to information about the project and the historical event which inspired it, it will be possible to find information connected to Czech lands, events and people at the time in question. Space will be allocated on this website for the presentation of other countries with similar quests. This website will be opened many months before the initiation of the project, not only for presentation purposes, but also for obtaining information.
- Participants in the various countries will be given a unique opportunity to help to finalise the route and organise the Quest. Through this, they will of course also learn more about the Dark Star Quest itself, and about the Czech Republic. They could help to expand the website, either by contributing further historical facts or by adding their own information about the historical quest and places on the route. Personal experiences, images, other materials and up-to-date tips about the present day route could also be added to the site, as seen by tourists, special-interest groups and professionals.
- The main part of the propagation mission will be fulfilled by the realisation of the Quest itself, by
the interest generated , and by the ongoing participation and cooperation of various mass media
(and occasionally the local media). The same unique offer to participate in the Quest will be offered
„en route“. Anyone who would like to join in the Quest, any time, anywhere, will be welcomed,
without claims or demands. Anyone who wishes to make a professional, artistic or personal
contribution to the life and work of the Quest, is welcome to do so, for as long as they wish.
Anyone who „comes in peace“ is welcome, and their participation will in turn help to fulfil another
aim of this project, namely that the Quest will also become a festival of human encounters and new
friendships. Any other forms of support (personal, spiritual or ethical), are of course also very
In addition to the previous point, for those who wish to participate in the Quest, video clips and photographs of the completed phases of the Quest will be posted daily on the Dark Star Quest website. The website will aim to capture the atmosphere of the everyday life of the Quest, including the feelings and experiences of the participants, in addition to detailing all the places visited.
- Another important factor is that German participants will be invited to join the present Dark Star Quest in a special partnership offer, similar to the one made by Lev of Rožmitál to G. Tetzel and G. Muffel of Nurnberg. In this way our project will more authentically resemble the historical Quest. It will also be greatly enriched at every level.
- One of the drawbacks of TV soap operas and TV reality shows (in contrast to our „reality show“, which will consist of the afore-mentioned daily video clips posted on the website) is the bland predictability of the location and the people. In our case, we have the attractive advantage that participants on the Quest don't know exactly where they will be on any given day, who will join/leave them, or how things in general will unfold. Another factor, which will gradually generate more and more interest in this project, is that the active phase will continue (with some breaks) for about 5 years. It is expected that publicity will increase as the Quest progresses, aided by accompanying events and by the website (where films, photographs and texts about the Dark Star Quest will be posted). There also will be ongoing contributions, responses and comments by visitors to the site, and prospective participants. After finishing this active phase it will be continued in two levels. Finishing touches will be made to the film material and the photographs, the travel book will be completed and edited, and so on. Of course the project website will remain open in the future, and could be regularly updated by the participating towns and cities, and by individual contributions, subject to their agreement.
- The chronological order in which the countries will be visited on the Dark Star Quest should, as far as possible, correspond to the chronological order in which they were visited on the original historical quest. However, due to the special time-pressures of filming, it will probably be necessary to start each year in warmer countries. Nevertheless, as far as possible, we will try to keep to the route followed by Lev of Rožmitál. Each year we will start in early Spring and finish by the end of Autumn. During the Winter we will work on the film material.
- The Dark Star Quest will také promotional material and information about the Czech Republic on the journey (if any specific Czech regions, towns or villages, institutions or others are interested, we can also také their promotional leaflets etc with us). Special events will be held „en route“. Details about these events will be posted in advance on the website, together with regular updates about the predicted arrival dates (approximate) for upcoming destinations on the route. The current location will be known from the daily video updates, and a regularly updated route-map.
The idea to make documentaries about pilgrimages and pilgrimage sites in Europe, and about the interesting people and places encountered by pilgrims, came after filming in France in 2005. The author of the current project named his original plan Ways of the Third Age, because he himself is a filmmaker, and both in essence and physically he is in his third age (third millenium and also he is 60). By studying materials, and by consultations with participants of similar expeditions and other inspirations, this idea gradually developed so much that the original simple conception was was completely transformed. From its inception it was envisaged the records of this Quest will be made available to institutions, care-homes for the elderly, hospices, people in long-term hospitalization, for kids in various institutions and so on. Every attempt will be made to make these films etc accessible to as many people as possible, so that in this way they will feel part of the Quest and experience the places portrayed in the films. For this reason on the 22nd June 2007 the NGO „The Ways of the Third Age“ (IČO – 22 66 22 35) (with the original name for the author's project) was founded.
We are currently seeking foreign contacs, other NGO's and other organizations, who would be interested in helping to make this project a reality.
The Dark Star Quest is an autonomus part of this original plan, and the first of several future planned pilgrimages.
Jan Hanzal - The Author of the Project - member of Association of Czech Cinematographers