In the 1960s Prague was abuzz with artistic excitement. Prague had long been the site of innovative creations in classical music and theater, but now the films coming out of the state sponsored film industry were making headlines, not only in Eastern Europe, but around the world. Czech films were winning Academy Awards in the US, being shown at the World Expo in Belgium, and being hailed by many in both the East and West as an artistic miracle. Most of these films went beyond simple art though. For many of the directors making films during the Czech Film Miracle moviemaking was a form of dissent; there only way of speaking out against a government that financially supported them but artistically and personally suppressed them.
[...] Jahn writes, “Long live Trotsky!” on the postcard as a joke but the Communist board at his University misinterprets his intentions and assume he must be Trotsky-follower and a dissident to the Party. After years in labor camps he returns to his hometown and sleeps with the wife of one of his accusers in order to destroy his marriage. The action has no effect on his accuser though and only ends up hurting the wife who was in no way involved with his conviction. The film is highly critical of the witch-hunt style antics many Communists engaged in during the time period, a subject which deeply effected Jires himself. [...]
[...] With the quality and profits of film quickly declining though, the Czech Communist Party Central Committee made a second decree commonly known as Great Initiative”. The Great Initiative sought to strengthen the social realism aspect of films while cutting back the schematics which bored most Czech filmgoers. The result was a major decrease in film production. In 1951, the first year of the great initiative, only eight films were made versus twenty-one in 1950 (Skvorecky 35). The Pike in the Pond, a film in which a young female bricklayer teaches older and stupider bricklayers how to lay bricks more effectively, exemplified the types of films put out by the Czech studio in the early 1950s. [...]
[...] They were fans of the culture of Western Europe and the United States and were aware that film was heading in a completely different direction than it had been ten years earlier. But most importantly, they were all deeply effected by the political climate of the time. Milos Forman was one of the filmmakers just starting out his film career in the late 1950s. Both of his parents were killed in Nazi concentration camps when he was a child and he was taken in by an uncle who ran a grocery store. [...]
[...] For them, film presented itself as the perfect opportunity to take a stand against the Party while also making some of the most important and finely crafted art of the twentieth century. WORKS CITED Broz, Jaroslav. The Path of Fame of the Czechslovak Film. Prague: 1967. Cowie, Peter. Other New Wave.” In Focus The Criterion Collection November
[...] The result of making The Joke was no less severe: the film was banned until the Velvet Revolution in 1989 and it was permanently stricken off Jires resume as if it never existed in the first place. Taking a stylistically different approach but still addressing political issues, Vera Chytilova, one of the only notable female graduates of FAMU and the founder of the Czech New Wave surrealist style, caused a stir when her student films were premiered just weeks after Sunshine in a Net. [...]
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