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Film as a Form of Dissent: The Politics of Czech Film Miracle

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  1. Introduction
  2. Enthusiasm for nationalized cinema
  3. The Great Initiative sought to strengthen the social realism aspect of films
  4. A period of loosening Communist control
  5. The background of the new generation of filmmakers
  6. The 1962 movie Sunshine in a Net
  7. Czech New Wave did
  8. The formation of a movement
  9. Conclusion
  10. Works cited

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. [...]

[...] Antonin and Mira Liehm note that at the beginning of the New Wave or Czech Film Miracle it was as if what three previous generations of filmmakers were striving to achieve had finally come together in the youngest generation (Liehm and Liehm 277). Because of this rapid coming together, the Czech New Wave did not have the same cohesive style as the French New Wave films. However, some stylistic similarities were shared by many of the films considered to be part of Czech New Wave cannon.If we seek to identify the unifying features of this filmmaking, it appears that the most specific manifestation of the Czechoslovak New Wave style can be reduced to an idiosyncratic combination of several characteristics. [...]

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