O slavnosti a hostech (1966)
Director: Jan Nemec
Actors: Ivan Vyskocil, Jan Klusák, Jiri Nemec
Runtime: 68 min
This simple and intelligent movie skillfully and effectively questions conformism and obedience to authority. It was made within the framework of the Czechoslovak New Wave and banned as “subversive” after the Soviet intervention in 1968. The critique developed in this movie is applicable to every society, not just Cold War Czechoslovakia, and therefore is still very topical and significant.
The plot is surrealist: a picnic turns into an interrogation, but the guests are soon escorted to a birthday party, which then becomes a manhunt for the one man who refused to participate in it. Along with conformism and silent consent of the oppressed, the movie shows how those who have the monopoly over means of coercion and violence arrogantly enjoy their power and control, how they meet people’s fear and uncertainty with smugish delight. Each scene is ambiguous and filled with symbolism – every conversation, as well as many one-liners, can be interpreted outside of their context and applied to various social issues, which makes the movie additionally provocative and politically interesting.