The Firemen’s Ball was quite an event in the career of Milos Forman, who would later become a darling of Hollywood what with his One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and Amadeus. It was his first film made in colour; but more importantly, it was his last movie in his native Czechoslovakia before he headed for America just in time to escape Prague Spring. The movie, which got banned in the country, is about a disastrous ball hosted by a group of middle-aged firemen in honour of their old retired chief. The crisp length and hilarious gags belie the movie’s immense artistic worth. It is a brilliant, anarchic, genre-bending classic whose comic timings would leave everyone laughing out loud, but whose subversive humour and satirical insights into a society behind Iron Curtain would not escape even those unaware of the then political turmoil surrounding the country. The actors, mostly non-professionals, did a remarkable job in bringing forth the farcical events that ensue over the course of the evening (interestingly, a number of members of the cast were repeated from the movie that preceded it, Forman’s delightful comedy Loves of a Blonde). The fact that Forman could infuse even the boisterous proceedings with a few moments of deep pathos and subtle (yet pinching) observations made the movie one for the ages, and along with a similarly subversive socio-political satire by Jiri Menzel, Closely Watched Trains, forms a cornerstone of the Czech New Wave.