Watched: June 1 2021

Director: Miloš Forman

Starring: Jan Vostrcil, Josef Sebánek, Josef Valnoha, Frantisek Debelka, Josef Rehorek, Jan Stöckl, Frantisek Reinstein, Frantisek Paska, Josef Kolb, Frantisek Svet, Josef Kutálek, and a bunch of other guys probably called Jan, Josef and/or Frantisek.

Year: 1967

Runtime: 1h 13min

Our small city of Trondheim has been relatively unaffected by Covid for the past few months – we’ve had few infections and most of our businesses have run more or less like normal. In fact, it’s been a source of pride for many local politicians and citizens how well we’ve handled all of this. But those of us who watch a lot of movies know all too well the price of hubris… It was only a matter of time before a new wave hit, which happened recently. This time with fun, new mutations! The result of all this is that while the rest of the world is slowly opening up again, we’re going in the opposite direction: many places are shut down, we’re in and out of quarantines, and things are far from normal. But at least we’ve got movies, right?

Kidnapping rates are thankfully also low, due to the whole don’t-leave-your-home-thing. So we’ve got that going for us, which is nice.

After a wait list period (who else checked out this movie in 2021???) we just managed to get our hands on The Firemen’s Ball before the libraries closed down. And was it worth it? Well, probably.

It has certainly become more complicated to use library services since the right wing government came into power…

OK, we’ll be honest – The Firemen’s Ball needs context to work, at least it did for us. With no context, it’s a farce about a bunch of bumbling, incompetent firemen trying to throw a ball, while being both stupid and a little bit sexist about it. And we’re not really big fans of farces – we tend to find them annoying (and sometimes sad) rather than funny.

It’s probably our critical and analytical stares, here perfectly captured by Forman.

However, context is important. This movie was made in Czechoslovakia in 1967, and the Communist Party was not amused by the depiction of bureaucratic idiocy and inadequate leaders. In fact, they were so unimpressed that Miloš Forman ended up in (self-imposed) exile in the wake of it. Which makes the whole thing pretty badass, even if the movie itself isn’t really our cup of tea.

“To reflect our high status and importance in society, we’ve moved away from the traditional fireman helmet into a design more befitting our station. No pun intended.”

So basically, watch this if you’re interested in history and/or like farces. But if you don’t like either, maybe skip it…

Some things work best with context. While other things, like this picture, are just as good or better without.

What we learned: “Uzenka” means “sausage”. We’ll never again starve or go horny for long in the Czech Republic.

Next time: The Graduate (1967)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s