The Firemen's Ball (The Criterion Collection)
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- New digital transfer, with restored image and sound
- New & improved subtitle translation
- Video interview with director Milos Forman
- A behind-the-scenes look at the transfer process, featuring cinematographer Miloslar Ondricek and including comments from Milos Forman
Top Customer Reviews
Made while Forman was still living under Communist rule in Czecholslovakia, "Fireman's Ball" was meant as a satire of government bureaucracy, though the story can be enjoyed purely at face value. The firemen are pathetic pillars of the community who engage in endless and logic-bending arguments over ridiculous little points, desperately nabbing any reluctant teenage girls for the beauty pageant; while the people outside are enjoying and upsetting the ball (even stealing all of the edible raffle prizes) to their hearts' content. Everybody's concerned only with himself or herself......until an outside siren leads everybody to a fire destroying an old man's house. Finally, everyone seems united in a common cause. The tragedy of the story--as well as the Czech people--is driven home.
Absolutely wonderful transfer--those of us who've caught it in infrequent TV broadcasts (notably on the USA network) have had to endure white subtitles obscured in decrepit-quality prints, or lost in the screen detail. Here they are completely readable. The interviews with Forman & his erstwhile photographer Miroslav Ondricek are enlightening. My one complaint is that this Criterion Collection edition doesn't give us Forman's original English-language introduction, appended to original American & British prints of the film (he looked quite stylish in a beard).
Amazing, too, that this film uses no professionals among its actors--simply friends and even schoolboy pals of Forman's.
In a small Czechoslovakian town the leadership of the fire department is planning a ball and raffle to honor their aged former chief. They'd planned to the year before on his 85th birthday but, well, they never quite got around to it. Now he's dying of cancer and they feel they really ought to do something. There will be a great banner in the meeting hall, a dance with drinks and food, a beauty contest featuring the town's young women, and a great raffle of donated delicacies, bottles of wine and toys and cosmetics.
But, oh. One thing after another happens with sweet irony, The banner burns. The girls don't want to take part. And slowly, item by item, things begin to go missing from the raffle table...first a chocolate cake, then a bottle of cognac, a head cheese, a chocolate ball. "Every one is stealing here," the wife of one blustering fireman tells him., "and you only watch, you old honest idiot!Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This may be an unknown classic for many, but it deserves to be known by millions. I first watched this film on regular TV in the 60's.
I couldn't keep my eyes off it. Read more
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Released three months before the Soviet crackdown on the progressive Dubček administration in Czechoslovakia, Milos Forman... Read more
Ignore anybody who tells you you can't enjoy this movie unless you know what was going on in Czechoslovakia in the 1960s. That's pompous, ignorant bull. Read morePublished on January 9, 2013 by J. Martin
It can be hard to judge a film like `Hori, ma Panenko' if one has not lived through the Czechoslovakian communism that is so obviously the brunt of the humor and criticisms present... Read morePublished on November 18, 2009 by Andrew Ellington
I decided to fast forward Milos Foreman's statement which proceeds the picture after hearing him say that 40,000 Czech fireman resigned in protest to his film. Read morePublished on November 10, 2007 by Aco
Milos Forman's 'fireman's ball' is a classic among political satires.. It is remarkable that a film so subtle would be condemned by the czech government. Read morePublished on January 26, 2007 by Stalwart Kreinblaster
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