Czechoslovak New Wave Cinema By Leskosky, Richard J.
The Czechoslovak New Wave was a 1960s film movement which flourished in the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic during a period of general liberalisation in the country’s politics that inspired a general blossoming of the arts. It shared stylistic and thematic traits with the other European New Wave movements of the time, but it also specifically rejected Socialist Realism. Socialist Realism was the Soviet film policy that demanded optimistic depictions of anything Communist, and condemned formalist elements, such as montage, that called attention to the making of the film rather than its story. The Czech New Wave (also called at the time ‘the Czech Film Miracle’) began in 1963 with the feature debuts of Milos Forman’s Černý Petr [Black Peter], Vĕra Chytilová’s O néčem jiném [Something Different], and Jaromil Jireš’s Křik [The Cry].
Czechoslovak New Wave films typically contained wry satires of the Communist Party and Czech society, a willingness to deal with sexual themes, the casting of non-professional actors, and the use of documentary techniques to present fictional stories. In addition to refusing to capitulate to the demands of Socialist Realism, the Czech New Wave cinema was also distinctive for its filmmakers’ collaboration with the country’s foremost writers, such as Bohumil Hrabal, Milan Kundera, and Arnošt Lustig.