Czechoslovak New Wave

Czechoslovak New Wave

25 Episodes

Of all the cinematic New Waves that broke over the world in the 1960s, the one in Czechoslovakia was among the most fruitful, fascinating, and radical. With a wicked sense of humor and a healthy streak of surrealism, a group of fearless directors—including Miloš Forman (THE FIREMEN’S BALL), Vera Chytilová (DAISIES), Jiří Menzel (CLOSELY WATCHED TRAINS), Jaromil Jireš (VALERIE AND HER WEEK OF WONDERS), Jan Němec (A REPORT ON THE PARTY AND GUESTS), and Juraj Herz (THE CREMATOR)—risked censorship and began to use film to speak out about the hypocrisy and absurdity of the Communist state. Ranging in style from the dazzlingly experimental to the arrestingly realistic, these revolutionary transmissions from a singular time and place stand as models of art as a tool of political resistance.

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Czechoslovak New Wave
  • Introducing the Czechoslovak New Wave

    Episode 1

    Programmer and critic Irena Kovarova, directors Miloš Forman and Jan Němec, and film professor Peter Hames discuss one of the most radical film movements of the 1960s.

  • Uncle

    Episode 2

    Directed by Jaromil Jireš • 1959 • Czechoslovakia

    This early short by Jaromil Jireš anticipates the formal and stylistic experimentation that would characterize VALERIE AND HER WEEK OF WONDERS.

  • Footprints

    Episode 3

    Directed by Jaromil Jireš • 1960 • Czechoslovakia

    This early short by Jaromil Jireš anticipates the formal and stylistic experimentation that would characterize VALERIE AND HER WEEK OF WONDERS.

  • The Hall of Lost Footsteps

    Episode 4

    Directed by Jaromil Jireš • 1960 • Czechoslovakia

    This early short by Jaromil Jireš anticipates the formal and stylistic experimentation that would characterize VALERIE AND HER WEEK OF WONDERS.

  • Something Different

    Episode 5

    Directed by Věra Chytilová • 1963 • Czechoslovakia

    The debut feature from Věra Chytilová interweaves two stories simultaneously: one a narrative about a frustrated mother (Vera Uzelacová) discontented with the drudgery of housework, the other a quasi documentary about a gymnast (real-life Olympi...

  • Courage for Every Day

    Episode 6

    Directed by Evald Schorm • 1964 • Czechoslovakia

    Director Evald Schorm reflects on the changing political tides of his generation in this clear-eyed study of idealism and disillusionment. Jarda (Jan Kačer) is a passionate Communist worker fervently dedicated to the principles of his party. But a...

  • Diamonds of the Night

    Episode 7

    Directed by Jan Němec • 1964 • Czechoslovakia
    Starring Ladislav Janský, Antonín Kumbera

    With this simultaneously harrowing and lyrical debut feature, Jan Němec established himself as the most uncompromising visionary among the radical filmmakers who made up the Czechoslovak New Wave. Adapted fro...

  • Black Peter

    Episode 8

    Directed by Miloš Forman • 1964 • Czechoslovakia
    Starring Ladislav Jakim, Pavla Martínková, Jan Vostrčil

    One of the first films to herald the arrival of the Czechoslovak New Wave, Miloš Forman’s stylistically inventive debut narrative feature follows the bumbling teenager of the title (Ladislav ...

  • Loves of a Blonde

    Episode 9

    Directed by Miloš Forman • 1965 • Czechoslovakia
    Starring Vladimíra Pucholta, Vladimír Menšik, Ivan Kheil

    With sixteen women to each man, the odds are against Andula in her desperate search for love—that is, until a rakish piano player visits her small factory town and temporarily eases her long...

  • The Shop on Main Street

    Episode 10

    Directed by Ján Kadár and Elmar Klos • 1965 • Czechoslovakia
    Starring Idá Kaminská, Josef Kroner, František Zvarík

    An inept Slovak peasant is torn between greed and guilt when the Nazi-backed bosses of his town appoint him “Aryan controller” of an old Jewish widow’s button shop. Humor and traged...

  • Intimate Lighting

    Episode 11

    Directed by Ivan Passer • 1965 • Czechoslovakia
    Starring Zdenek Bezusek, Karel Blazek, Vera Kresadlová

    One of the most beloved films of the Czechoslovak New Wave, this digressive, easygoing slice of life takes place over the course of a weekend in a provincial town where a musician returns, alon...

  • The Junk Shop

    Episode 12

    Directed by Juraj Herz • 1965 • Czechoslovakia

    In his debut film, Juraj Herz adapts Bohumil Hrabal's story about a man who works in a junk shop.

  • Daisies

    Episode 13

    Directed by Věra Chytilová • 1966 • Czechoslovakia
    Starring Ivana Karbanová, Jitka Cerhová, Marie Češková

    If the entire world is bad, why shouldn’t we be? Adopting this insolent attitude as their guiding philosophy, a pair of hedonistic young women (Ivana Karbanová and Jitka Cerhová), both named...

  • Closely Watched Trains

    Episode 14

    Directed by Jiří Menzel • 1966 • Czechoslovakia
    Starring Václav Neckář, Josef Somr, Vlastimil Brodský

    At a village railway station in occupied Czechoslovakia, a bumbling dispatcher’s apprentice longs to liberate himself from his virginity. Oblivious to the war and the resistance that surrounds h...

  • Pearls of the Deep

    Episode 15

    Directed by Jiří Menzel, Věra Chytilová, Jaromil Jireš, Jan Němec, and Evald Schorm • 1966 • Czechoslovakia

    A manifesto of sorts for the Czech New Wave, this five-part anthology shows off the breadth of expression offered by the movement's versatile directors.

  • A Report on the Party and Guests

    Episode 16

    Directed by Jan Němec • 1966 • Czechoslovakia

    In Jan Němec's surreal fable, a picnic is rudely transformed into a lesson in political hierarchy when a handful of mysterious authority figures show up. This allegory about oppression and conformity was banned in its home country but became an inter...

  • Return of the Prodigal Son

    Episode 17

    Directed by Evald Schorm • 1967 • Czechoslovakia

    Evald Schorm was one of the most politically outspoken of the Czech New Wave filmmakers. This raw psychological drama about an engineer unable to adjust to the world around him following his suicide attempt is at heart a scathing portrait of socia...

  • The Firemen’s Ball

    Episode 18

    Directed by Miloš Forman • 1967 • Czechoslovakia
    Starring Jan Vostrcil, Josef Šebánek, František Reinstein

    A milestone of the Czech New Wave, Miloš Forman’s first color film THE FIREMEN’S BALL is both a dazzling comedy and a provocative political satire. A hilarious saga of good intentions confo...

  • Capricious Summer

    Episode 19

    Directed by Jiří Menzel • 1968 • Czechoslovakia

    Two years after his worldwide hit CLOSELY WATCHED TRAINS, Jiří Menzel directed this amusing idyll about three middle-aged men whose mellow summer is interrupted by the arrival of a circus performer and his beautiful assistant. A meditation on agi...

  • A Boring Afternoon

    Episode 20

    Directed by Ivan Passer • 1968 • Czechoslovakia

    Patrons of a bar interact on a summer Sunday afternoon.

  • The Joke

    Episode 21

    Directed by Jaromil Jireš • 1969 • Czechoslovakia

    Jaromil Jireš's brilliant adaptation of Milan Kundera's novel tells the fragmentary tale of a man expelled from the Communist Party because of a political joke. After "rehabilitation" in the mines and a stint in prison, he hatches a revenge plot...

  • The Cremator

    Episode 22

    Directed by Juraj Herz • 1969 • Czechoslovakia

    Czechoslovak New Wave iconoclast Juraj Herz’s terrifying, darkly comic vision of the horrors of totalitarian ideologies stars a supremely chilling Rudolf Hrušínský as the pathologically morbid Karel Kopfrkingl, a crematorium manager in 1930s Prague ...

  • All My Good Countrymen

    Episode 23

    Directed by Vojtěch Jasný • 1969 • Czechoslovakia

    Vojtěch Jasný won the best director award at the 1969 Cannes Film Festival for this sweeping portrait of a small Czech village between the years of 1945 and 1958, during which the residents go from hopeful in the aftermath of the defeat of the Na...

  • The Ear

    Episode 24

    Directed by Karel Kachyňa • 1970 • Czechoslovakia

    This paranoid surveillance thriller unfolds over the course of a tense, turbulent night in the life of Ludvík (Radoslav Brzobohatý), a Communist party official, and his wife Anna (Jiřina Bohdalová). Returning home from a party one evening, the pa...