The national cinemas of the countries of East Europe are lauded by film lovers and scholars across the world. The late 1960s saw filmmakers from the region reflect upon the turbulent decade during which periods of enthusiasm for socialism fluctuated with periods of bitter disillusionment with the system. This unease was especially resonant following 1968, when protests erupted amongst widespread frustration due a suppression of freedom of speech and other civil rights by bureaucratic and military elites, notably in the Prague Spring in Czechoslovakia, in Poland, and in Yugoslavia. These films are a reflection of the aftermath of that moment, images of 1969.
The Red Tent
Mikhail Kalatozov’s arctic survival adventure based on true events of 1928, The Red Tent tells the story of an ill-fated zeppelin trip to the North Pole attempted by the Italians. After the crash of a Zeppelin, explorers are rescued by Russians in this exciting adventure film, a joint effort by Mosfilm and Italian producers.
Set in 1947, shortly after the Communist Party had taken control of Hungary, The Confrontation presents an attempt by students from the People’s College to debate students from a nearby Catholic seminary. This musical parable explores themes relevant to the student revolts of 1968.
The Structure of Crystals
Krzysztof Zanussi’s debut feature film, The Structure of Crystals explores the values of the sedentary life. The film’s straightforward motifs are deceptively simple, investigating knowledge, religion, life, and death within a allegorically-driven realist film.
Fruit of Paradise
Věra Chytilová offers viewers a highly symbolic take on the story of Adam and Eve, which also doubles as a meditation on the invasion of Prague by Soviet forces in August 1968. Fruit of Paradise avoids outright political commentary and relies instead on unpredictable and polychromatic interpretive art.