A milestone of the Czech New Wave, Miloš Forman’s first color film The Firemen’s Ball (Hoří, má panenko) is both a dazzling comedy and a provocative political satire. A hilarious saga of good intentions confounded, the story chronicles a firemen’s ball where nothing goes right.
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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 Firemen’s Ball is a harsh and effective satire on the political state of Czechoslovakia duing the 1960s. Hilarious at most moments and in possession of an arsenal of symbols, this is simply a fantastic allegory, the kind I wish I were able to write. The script should be archived and taught along Animal Farm.
Early film from director Milos Forman is an amiable and eccentric comedy of errors, though light on any real big laughs. Most of the fun comes from the very authentic comic performances and buoyant atmosphere, but even at 73 minutes, it goes on too long. Entertaining, but Forman would go on to make much better films.
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!