The Firemen's Ball

Film

Time Out says

The scene is the annual firemen's ball in a small Czech town. The action, characteristically tenuous but packed with detail, concerns the committee's efforts to round up girls for a beauty contest, the winner to make the presentation of a golden hatchet to their 86-year-old retiring president. As the ball proceeds, a patchwork of comic incident unfolds: the committee, finding girls too shy and mothers too ferocious, are busily trying to hijack any girl, pretty or not; an anxious official watches as the lottery prizes mysteriously vanish one by one; and the ancient president, desperate to slip away for a pee, is kept forcibly waiting and waiting. Quietly, irresistibly funny in the early Forman manner (this was his first film in colour); but the belated switch to allegorical satire (in the closing sequences, an elderly peasant's house burns down while the firemen revel; a sympathetic whip-round nets the now worthless lottery tickets for him) seems altogether too sour in the context.

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