Una película que respira sátira. Un grupo de bomberos haciendo un homenaje a uno de los suyos que termina tan accidentado como la misma integridad por sus oficios. Forman proyecta a modo de anécdota. Es el encuentro tan planificado como improvisado. En la escena no hay un Sellers o un Tati aguando la fiesta. Es más bien como si todos se forzaran por tirarla abajo. Desde una rifa hasta un incendio.
The farcical nature of communist era institutions, and their inability to maintain a realistic grasp on reality, despite pretensions of powers, is wonderfully portrayed in Forman's allegorical satire. Essentially a committee of old mildly corrupt men attempt to organize a celebration for the enjoyment of all. Less dark and introspective than Foreman's other Czech masterpiece Loves of a Blonde, but likely funnier.
Honesty is a stolen headcheese bouncing across a barren prize table. Lust is a last-minute unsolicited bathing suit in a local beauty contest. Sex is a defeated pearl necklace that topples an elephant. And being old means drinking, laughing, stealing, fighting and dancing (with an over-protective mother so your buddies can ogle boobs). This film is joy itself.
This picture takes advantage of essential human frailties and through them it criticizes an entire political regime. That's just an easy way to do it, and therefore it soon tastes false. This ambiguous nature (is this a picture about humans or about politics???) condemns it to irrelevance.
The scene in which the retiring Fire Chief begins to walk towards the stage, off cue, orchestra in full swing, as opposed to the young girls chosen to partake in the "beauty contest," is one of the funniest moments I've ever come across in a film. Subtle, funny, optimistically pessimistic. What a great film!
I bought this film, and thought it was decent but not a keeper, I've been regretting it ever since. I love when humour is used so naively, in a way that doesn't betray the dignity of the people portrayed, in this aspect it brought such a joy to the people involved. At the same time the lighter moments brought such a sadness to the more melancholic moments. A great, and simple piece of cinematic bliss.
I think this is the most funny and at the same time the most sad movie Forman ever made. So far I have never seen a better lecture on socialism. Considered that this satire actually was made in the year 1967 in former Czechoslovakia I can only bow in awe about the braveness of the director and the whole cast. Highly recommended!