Miloš Forman’s brilliant satire turns an epically disastrous fete into a merciless critique of bureaucratic incompetence. When a brigade of small-town firefighters throw a shindig in honor of their ailing octogenarian chairman, the result is a tragicomic train wreck as absurdist mishaps pile up: guests pilfer from the prize table; the contestants in a beauty contest rebel; and a house fire reveals just how deep the ineptitude runs. Read by the government as an allegory for Communism’s failings, The Firemen’s Ball was banned “forever” and Forman exiled. It’s easy to see why they were afraid. This is political satire of the highest order: fiercely funny and painfully perceptive.
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