List Film

The Fireman's Ball (4 stars)

The Fireman's Ball

(PG) 73min (Arrow Films DVD retail)


Milos Amadeus Forman’s much loved 1967 Czech New Wave lynchpin has the honour of being one of only four films to be ‘banned forever’ by the Czech/Soviet authorities of the day who presumed it was an allegory for their misrule. Forman, who left his homeland after this film to have a very successful career in America always claimed there was no deeper motive to his deadpan farce about a provincial firemen’s ball descending into complete chaos.

In retrospect its easy to see that maybe Forman was as driven by influences from silent cinema (most notably Buster Keaton in the opening sequence) and a need to push the limits of the comedy of embarrassment (the beauty contest sequence would certainly not be out of place in Ricky Gervais’ Extras), than by political satire, though it is difficult to believe there was not a deeper intention at play here.

Either way it’s a hilarious comedy, one that deserves discovery by a new generation. Minimal extras.


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