Season 2, Episode 4: “Prague Clock: The Curse of the Orloj”
Directed by Christoph Schrewe
Written by Ashley Miller
* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Hinterkaifeck: Ghosts in the Attic” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Mary Webster: The Witch of Hadley” – click here
This episode concerns the Prague astronomical clock, also known as the Prague Orloj, the oldest piece of which dates back to the year 1410. The clock is actually down to be reconstructed, currently replaced by an LED screen, and should be finished by the end of October. You can find a great article with information on various parts of the clock’s history here.
We begin in Prague, 1410. A young boy stares up at the clock’s astronomical dial, heading inside the tower where it stands. The clock’s mechanisms seem to be stuck on something, and blood begins dripping. A ring falls along with the red drops. Following this, the clock wouldn’t move. People believed the city was cursed after the clock stopped.
In 1470, a man called Dr. Kristoff Brehovy (Steven Berkoff) came to Prague seeking out Dirvick and Jan Mirandesh (Numan Acar & Elie Haddad), finding them in a plague ridden city under the supposed curse of the Orloj. Plague doctors were everywhere doing what little they could to alleviate the suffering of mass amounts of people, giving last rites to those about to perish in the streets. Dirvick was a “journeyman seeking to prove his capabilities” by fixing the famed clock— one could only be considered a master clockmaker if they mastered the Orloj. He went about trying to figure out the clock’s problems.
One day, the gears began moving on their own and Dirvick cut himself badly on one of them. He was the only one around to witness the movement. Something about it frightened him, too. He was curious why the original clockmaker left no plans, calling the design “madness.”
Many are superstitious about the Orloj. Jan dismisses all this supernatural talk. Yet Dirvick keeps experiencing strange phenomenon. He becomes caught in a trance by the clock while working on it one day. Then he tumbles off into the scaffolding below, injuring himself badly. Another man tries stopping the clock to help, getting his arm jammed as the clock soaks up more blood.
60 years prior, the Orloj – “many clocks within one clock” – was built by a mysterious clockmaker called Hanuš. Lore gives him a last name but he only went by a first name, according to historical record. Of course this is only legend. There’s no historical proof. All the more mystery.
Dirvick found a ring in the clock’s working when he fell— the one that fell from the body chewed up by the clock 60 years ago. Could the ring have belonged to Hanuš? Did the clockmaker become a literal piece of his own device? Well, Dirvick was having trouble psychologically after his accident, becoming obsessed worse with discovering what made the Orloj tick (get it?).
His brother was concerned for him. The clockmaker had visions of an apocalyptic Prague, such “flame consuming nearly every building” and “clockwork monsters.” He believed the ring would give him the “missing piece” to understanding the Orloj. Meanwhile, his arm was infected. Dirvick became possessed and nearly killed Jan. Clearly he wasn’t right in the mind.
As the legend goes, Hanuš was blinded by the city officials of Prague, because they didn’t want his mystical skills to create a similar clock for any other city in the world. Guards burned his eyes out with hot pokers. So the man returned to his clock, placing a curse on Prague against anyone who tried repairing or renovating his masterpiece. This is when he tossed himself into its working. The little boy who saw the clock “weep with blood“? Young Kristoff.
“Beauty, they say, is in the eye of the beholder.”
Jan was desperate to cure his brother, who was dying from the curse. He wanted to fix the clock and rid the city of the curse Hanuš placed on Prague. He pored over all the drawings his brother did while looking through the various mechanisms, all of them detailed. The foreman (Ian Reddington) lent his help, having seen the same visions of “metal beasts” and fires across Prague as Dirvick.
The two men followed Dirvick’s specifications, and soon they were ready to try starting the clock once again. Jan tried, but nothing happened. He realised the ring his brother found was “the key” – as in literally – to start the machinery. He put it in place, then turned the crank, and the Orloj, for the first time in six decades, operated like new.
Jan ran to his brother, only to find him dead. He was angry after believing in Dr. Brehovy. The doctor reveals he lied, in order to try saving his city. His own father was part of the curse’s creation, burning the clockmaker’s eyes. Jan was left betrayed, his brother another of the clock’s casualties. This sent him back to the clock. He put his hand on the gears, seeing those same visions of tanks rolling through Prague, flame, and destruction. Jan threw himself into the clock, just as Hanuš did 60 years before, and his blood rained down on Dr. Brehovy, stopping the clock all over again. A cruel twist of fate.
One of Father Gore’s favourite Lore episodes! So great, and had lots of eerie, even gory bits, albeit the blood was only brief (for anybody squeamish). The clock’s legends are creepy enough, to see it brought to life here is awesome.
“Mary Webster: The Witch of Hadley” is next.