FIREMEN'S BALL, THE:DVD
The firemen's committee in a small Czech town decides to have a celebration party for their former chief, who is almost 86 and possibly soon to die. The plans, including a doomed raffle, are convulsed in bureaucratic habits and the event is interrupted by a local fire. As a special treat, they plan a beauty pageant with the lovely winner presenting the miniature fire axe to the old man. But the pageant is a disaster with no willing entrants, and the gift disappears ....
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
The Firemen's Ball was a controversial film of its time - 1968 - when Czechoslovakia's firemen all threatened to go on strike, offended by the film for making fun of them. They had to be convinced that it was actually a satire about small minded bureaucracy, which it most surely is, and made on the eve of the re-invasion of the country by the Soviets. Ironically, the Czech authorities banned the film.
This is one of Milos Forman's terrifically true-to-life Czech films, and one of the last films made in the filmmaking era known as Prague Spring - and Forman's first film in colour. It is a lighthearted affair and a small film by comparison with his American work, but nonetheless, it carries the unmistakable stamp of Milos Forman - filmmaking genius.
Performed by locals, who give the film an undisputable sense of veracity in every way, The Firemen's Ball hums with satirical truths about the Soviet system, buried (not too deeply) in the behaviour patterns of the characters. But Forman's barbs are aimed at a culture that constrains people, not at his characters, who all come across as tangible people. Lightly humorous and broadly funny at times, this is a real gem of a movie.
The intelligent and informed commentary by Scott Murray and Roland Caputo makes the film accessible to those who are fresh to Forman and to the subject matter, and provides deeper background commentary on both the film itself and on the political environment in which it is set.
Published April 26, 2007
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FIREMEN'S BALL, THE:DVD (PG)
Horí, má panenko
CAST: Josef Kolb, Marie Jezkova, Jan Vostrcil, Josef Svet
PRODUCER: Rudolf Hajek
DIRECTOR: Milos Forman
SCRIPT: Milos Forman, Jaroslav Papousek, Ivan Passer
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Miroslav Ondricek
EDITOR: Miroslav Hajek
MUSIC: Karel Mares
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Karel Cerny
RUNNING TIME: 71 minutes
SPECIAL FEATURES: Audio commentary by Scott Murray and Roland Caputo (editors of Sense of Cinema).
DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Umbrella
DVD RELEASE: March 3, 2007