Firemen’s Ball

comedy, satire

Typology

feature

Czech title

Hoří, má panenko

Runtime

70

Country

Czechoslovakia, Italy

Copyright

1967

Production year

1967

Premiere

15.12.1967

Language version

Czech

Director

Miloš Forman

Screenplay

Miloš Forman, Jaroslav Papoušek, Ivan Passer

Screenstory

Miloš Forman, Jaroslav Papoušek, Ivan Passer

Summary

The legendary tragicomedy Hoří, má panenko (Firemen’s Ball), with which the then 35-year-old Miloš Forman brought the Czech part of his career to a close in 1967, ranks among the most exquisite pieces in the family silver of Czech cinematography. The unforgiving portrayal of a rural firemen’s ball is today regarded as a masterpiece of the Czechoslovak New Wave. At the time, however, it was rejected both by the state film industry and (unexpectedly) foreign co-producer Carlo Ponti. Domestic audiences had scant opportunity to enjoy Forman’s picture at the cinema: It was only screened for a few weeks after its December 1967 premiere before, accused of the gross distortion and denigration of socialist reality, being pulled from distribution. The period media repressed the fact that the film, which was to disappear into the normalisation censors’ vaults, received an Oscar nomination in the Best Foreign Language Film category. Domestic audiences did not get to see Firemen’s Ball until 1988, in the perestroika period. After November 1989 critics accorded it the status of a remorseless satire of 1960s communist society. However, Forman himself refused to regard his film as a parable of a particular period. The passing of time has in fact revealed its timeless qualities, primarily its chillingly grim mosaic of human embarrassment, set against a real backdrop with non-actors and with an outwardly spontaneous form. In the film, wretchedness – unaccompanied by shame – engulfs its collective hero: outwardly decent citizens who reveal their weaknesses in the election of a provincial beauty queen, the theft of raffle prizes and the extinguishing of a fire at a neighbour’s cottage. The restored version, created in close cooperation with Miroslav Ondříček, lacks the original opening title stating that the film is not directed against firemen. It was tacked on – in March 1968 – in reaction to artificially stoked protests from allegedly outraged Czech firemen.

Synopsis

In a village under the Giant Mountains, a firemens' ball is in preparation. The former chairman of the firemen, Vrána, is to be rewarded by a golden axe for fifty years of service in the firemens' corps. The men decorate the dancing hall: there is a rich tombola prepared on two tables in the corner, guarded by Josef, one of the members of the committee. When the ball begins, the rest of the committee members try to find girls - candidates for the ball's beauty queen competition. But they are unable to agree upon the winner and their decision-making is moreover constantly influenced by their family members. There are many unpleasant situations during the selection of girls behind the closed door of the office. The whole action results in a fiasco - the girls are shy and refuse to come up to the stage. Josef, too, faces some problems. Every time he leaves the tombola to have a beer, something disappears from the tables. Later, he finds out that the stolen collared pork resides hidden in his wife's bag. In the midst of the celebrations, a fire bursts out in the village. Although the firemen do their best, the wooden cottage of old man Havelka burns to the ground. The villagers decide to donate the tombola takings to him. Upon their return to the dance hall, however, they find the tables with the tombola all empty. The organizers ask the people present to return everything, but the only one to be found by the tables is the innocent Josef who wanted to correct his wife's wrongdoings. The ball is over, people walk away. There is only Vrána sitting in the empty hall, waiting for his reward. But that, unfortunately, was stolen, too.

Note

The text of the song Fire!, the refrain of which gave the title to the film, was written by Fanda Mrázek, but in the film itself the composition is performed in the orchestral form only. The premiere has taken place outside Prague in Vrchlabí in October, 1967.

Cast

Jan Vostrčil

velitel požárníků, předseda plesového výboru

Josef Šebánek

požárník, člen plesového výboru

František Debelka

požárník Franta, člen plesového výboru

Josef Valnoha

požárník Ota, člen plesového výboru

Ladislav Adam (2)

člen plesového výboru

Vratislav Čermák

požárník, člen plesového výboru

Václav Novotný

požárník, člen plesového výboru

František Paska

požárník, člen plesového výboru

František Reinstein

požárník, člen plesového výboru

Josef Řehořek

požárník, člen plesového výboru a konferenciér

J. Řeháček

požárník, člen plesového výboru

Josef Kolb

požárník Josef, hlídač tomboly

Milada Ježková

Josefova žena

František Svět

děda Havelka

Jan Stöckl

zasloužilý požárník Alois Vrána

Antonín Blažejovský

Standa Zindulka

Josef Kutálek

Ludva Metelka

Stanislav Holubec

požárník Václav, hlídač u vchodu

Alena Květová

kandidátka na titul královny krásy Růženka, Metelkova dcera

Olga Blechová

nevybraná kandidátka na titul královny krásy

Ivana Freiburgová

kandidátka na titul královny krásy

Marie Slívová

kandidátka na titul královny krásy

V. Bartošová

kandidátka na titul královny krásy Bartošová

V. Janusová

kandidátka na titul královny krásy Hana

E. Šnajdrová

kandidátka na titul královny krásy

Hana Kuberová

opilá kráska

Miluše Zelená

kráska

Anna Liepoldová

Marie Matějíčková, kandidátka na titul královny krásy v plavkách

Jiří Líbal

zachránce

Miloslav Balcar

Olda Balcar, muž věšící plakát

Marie Kovářová

manželka

Jarmila Kuchařová

manželka

Vlastimila Vlková

žena se židlí

Hana Hanusová

Jarka

Stanislav Dytrich

číšník

F. Řehořková

Hanina matka

M. Mejsnarová

servírka

Crew and creators

Second Unit Director

Jaroslav Papoušek

Assistant Director

Milan Muchna, Lilian Havlíčková

Script Supervisor

Marie Beránková

Shooting Script

Miloš Forman

Script Editor

Václav Šašek

Second Unit Photography

Eduard Kadeřábek

Camera Operator

Jiří Kučera

Production Designer

Karel Černý

Assistent Production Designer

Jiří Kotlář

Set Designer

Rudolf Beneš, Vladimír Mácha, J. Suchý

Film Editor

Miroslav Hájek

Assistant Film Editor

Jitka Šulcová

Sound Designer

Adolf Böhm

Assistant Sound Designer

Václav Kliegel

Production Manager

Rudolf Hájek

Unit Production Manager

Jaroslav Solnička, František Jaderník

Unit Production Manager

Václav Polák

Cooperation

Pavla Marková (klapka)

Music

Music Composed by

Karel Mareš

Music Performed by

Orchestr Karla Vlacha, Orchestr Slávy Kunsta, Dechová hudba Supraphon, FISYO, Ústřední hudba Československé lidové armády

Music Conducted by

Karel Vlach (Orchestr Karla Vlacha), Sláva Kunst (Orchestr Slávy Kunsta), Jindřich Bauer (Dechová hudba Supraphon), Štěpán Koníček (FISYO)

Songs

U Kokořína, Strahováček, Formanka, U nás, Hvězda na vrbě, Do lesíčka na čekanou, Pode mlejnem, nade mlejnem, Hoří!, Fanfárový pochod

Songwriter

Karel Mareš (U Kokořína), Karel Hašler (Strahováček), Karel Mareš (Formanka), Karel Mareš (U nás), Karel Mareš (Hvězda na vrbě), lidová píseň (Do lesíčka na čekanou), Miloš Vacek (Do lesíčka na čekanou) (úprava), František Kmoch (Pode mlejnem, nade mlejnem), Jaroslav Jankovec (Hoří!), František Zita (Fanfárový pochod)

Writer of Lyrics

Václav Fischer (U Kokořína), Karel Hašler (Strahováček), Bohuslav Nádvorník (Formanka), Bohuslav Nádvorník (U nás)

Singer

Milan Chladil (U Kokořína), Jaromír Mayer (U Kokořína), Josef Zíma (Strahováček), Studiový sbor Jana Svatoše (Strahováček), Zdeněk Matouš (Formanka), Petr Altman (Formanka), Kühnův smíšený sbor (U nás)

Production info

Original Title

Hoří, má panenko

English Title

Firemen’s Ball

Parallel Title

La Fiesta de bomberos

Copyright

1967

Production Year

1967

Premiere

15.12.1967

Distribution

Ústřední půjčovna filmů (původní 1967 a obnovená 1989), Bontonfilm (obnovená 2012)

Creative Group

Šebor – Bor, Vladimír Bor, Jiří Šebor

Technical info

Format

Betacam, DVD, HD

Versions

Czech

Subtitles

English

Awards

Vítěz

Exhibition: Přehlídka českých a slovenských filmů 69 Sorrento

1969
Sorrento / Italy
Miloš Forman

Vítěz

Event: Cena Československé federace filmových klubů

1969
Praha / Czechoslovakia
Miloš Forman

Nominace

Event: 41. ročník Ceny americké Akademie filmových věd a umění Oscar 1968

1969
Hollywood, Los Angeles / United States of America

Vítěz

Event: Múzy pražských diváků

1968
Praha / Czechoslovakia
Miloš Forman

Vítěz

Event: Peněžitá odměna za film v rámci hodnocení produkce Filmového studia Barrandov v roce 1967

1968
Praha / Czechoslovakia
Ivan Passer

Vítěz

Event: Peněžitá odměna za film v rámci hodnocení produkce Filmového studia Barrandov v roce 1967

1968
Praha / Czechoslovakia
Miloš Forman

Vítěz

Event: Peněžitá odměna za film v rámci hodnocení produkce Filmového studia Barrandov v roce 1967

1968
Praha / Czechoslovakia
Miroslav Ondříček

Vítěz

Event: Peněžitá odměna za film v rámci hodnocení produkce Filmového studia Barrandov v roce 1967

1968
Praha / Czechoslovakia
Jaroslav Papoušek