The awkward presentation of the beauty pageant queen
in The Firemen's Ball
The Firemen's Ball is one of the satirical examples of film from the Czech Film Renaissance of the 1960's and also is an early work of Milos Forman from his native country before he became one of the most successful directors in America over the next few decades. The Firemen's Ball is a striking satire of small town life. The old duffers in the town's fire department sets up a raffle and an ill-advised beauty pageant for their annual ball. They are giving away a fire axe at the ball to their old chairman, who is dying. Nothing goes right for the firemen: the thrown together beauty contestants won't go on stage, a young couple is fooling around under the table while the ball (no pun intended) is going on, many of the raffle items come up stolen, the firemen can't seem to agree on any protocols and the axe goes missing! There is also an actual fire that they have to deal with and a house burns to the ground. The film has been read as an allegory against the Communist state, though I'm not sure I get that out of it. It is amusing, if not laugh out loud funny. I think some of the satire is awfully subtle, but I did like it and appreciated those touches that Foreman brought to his film when I thought about it after viewing.
The firemen look for contestants
in The Firemen's Ball
The not very adorable white rabbit
Speaking of having a different opinion of a film after it is over....Short film director Jan Švankmajer brought this stop motion and part live action version of Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland to the screen and it is a most unusual to say the least. It doesn't give the viewer a straight ahead narrative of the Alice story. It is more a culmination of images of the story brought together in a form that is bit hard to follow. This aggravated me at first, I must admit. At ninety minutes, I thought the proceeding went on too long and thought this might work better as a short film. By the time the film drew to a close, I had changed my mind. Švankmajer was trying to bring the nightmarish state of Alice's journey to life and he really succeeds in that. I will say you really have to be in the right frame of mind to watch this one.
A mad tea party in Alice