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Firemen's Ball
     

The Firemen's Ball

5.0 1
Director: Milos Forman

Cast: Vaclav Stockel, Josef Svet, Josef Valnoha

 
The 1960s were an incredibly fertile time for Czech cinema, due in no small part to the liberal political reforms introduced by Alexander Dubcek. For a few short years, up until 1968 when the Soviet tanks came rolling in to crush what was known as the Prague Spring, films such as The Shop on Main Street, Daisies, The Fruit of Paradise, and

Overview

The 1960s were an incredibly fertile time for Czech cinema, due in no small part to the liberal political reforms introduced by Alexander Dubcek. For a few short years, up until 1968 when the Soviet tanks came rolling in to crush what was known as the Prague Spring, films such as The Shop on Main Street, Daisies, The Fruit of Paradise, and Closely Watched Trains (just to name a few) gave international audiences a glimpse of life behind the Iron Curtain. Many of the films became part of what was known as the Czech New Wave, and inarguably the most well-known director to emerge from that time was Milos Forman, who had previously made the highly successful Loves of a Blonde (also available as part of The Criterion Collection). The Firemen's Ball, released just three weeks before the Soviets invaded, is a hilariously ironic political allegory that is as surreal as it is insightful. The film was eventually banned by the government and was the catalyst for Forman's move abroad, where he continued to make numerous award-winning and provocative films. The Criterion Collection's disc is superb, offering the film in a beautiful new remastered full-screen transfer. The vibrant colors look better than they ever have for home video, causing anyone who had previously viewed the film to see it with fresh new eyes. The Czech mono soundtrack (available with optional English subtitles) is fine as well. The disc also comes with a fascinating 15-minute video interview with Forman, where he discusses in detail the pros and cons of working under a communist regime as opposed to a market-driven one, his volatile business dealings with producer Carlo Ponti (who put up the money), and his subsequent tribulations maneuvering through the political waters of his country. Also included on the disc is a brief look at the film's restoration process in Prague which was supervised by the great Czech cinematographer Miroslav Ondricek. Informative liner notes are also enclosed.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide
Milos Forman's last film in his native Czechoslovakia is a mordant attack on the pettiness and hypocrisy of the middle class. Essentially plotless, the 73-minute feature is set at a ball thrown by the firemen of a small town in honor of their retired chief. The party gradually devolves into a farcical mess, culminating in a fire that burns down an old man's house. Throughout the film, the townspeople are revealed to be mean and self-serving. People steal raffle prizes meant to benefit the victim of the fire; a veteran fireman is caught stealing; the memento for the retired chief turns out to have been filched as well. Faintly absurd and borderline cruel, The Firemen's Ball contains some amusing comic set pieces, such as a thrown-together beauty contest organized by the leering old men of the fire company and a melee that ensues over the stolen prizes. The movie has lost some of its punch with the subject of its satire so distant now, but its anarchic spirit is still infectious. As it turned out, the satire was too strong for some in the home front: the movie's 1967 release was temporarily blocked by the president himself, while 40,000 Czech firemen quit their jobs in protest, only to return to work after Forman assured them that the movie was not criticizing firemen specifically.

Product Details

Release Date:
02/12/2002
UPC:
0037429165522
Original Release:
1967
Rating:
NR
Source:
Criterion
Presentation:
[Full Frame]
Sound:
[Dolby Digital, monaural]
Time:
1:13:00

Special Features

New digital transfer, with restored image and sound; Video interview with director Milos Forman; A behind-the-scenes look at the transfer process, featuring cinematographer Miroslav Ondricek and comments from Milos Forman; New & improved English subtitle translation

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Vaclav Stockel Fire Brigade Commander
Josef Svet Old Man
Josef Valnoha Adjutant
Jan Vostrcil Committee Chairman
Josef Kolb Josef
Frantisek Debelka 1st Committee Member
Josef Sebanek 2nd Committee Member
Marie Jezkova Josef's Wife

Technical Credits
Milos Forman Director,Screenwriter
Karel Cerny Production Designer
Miroslav Hajek Editor
Karel Mares Score Composer
Miroslav Ondrícek Cinematographer
Jaroslav Papousek Screenwriter
Ivan Passer Screenwriter
Vaclav Sasek Screenwriter

Scene Index

Side #1 --
255. Chapters
1. The Chairman's Gift [3:32]
2. Preparations for the Ball [6:10]
3. A Beauty Pageant [2:45]
4. Something Missing [3:13]
5. Seeking Contestants [5:16]
6. Finger Pointing [3:39]
7. Hooligan [1:17]
8. "An Honest Idiot" [2:08]
9. Beauties Chosen [1:42]
10. The Review Process [7:12]
11. Rehearsal [7:00]
12. Coronation [6:33]
13. "Fire!" [7:13]
14. The Lottery [4:33]
15. A Chance to Come Clean [1:37]
16. A Reputation at Stake [5:20]
17. Acceptance Speech [4:07]
18. Color Bars [:03]

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The Firemen's Ball 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago