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