Sunday, 11 March 2012
The Party and the Guests 
Jan Nemec, despite not being able to make many films during his heydays because of the state-sanctioned impositions, was one of the forbearers of the Czech New Wave movement. Along with his Diamonds of the Night, The Party and the Guests remains not just as his greatest accomplishment, but also one of the cornerstones of the incredible but short-lived New Wave. Though crisp in length, this was a marvelous satire on the seductive charm of Communism and the blind conformity it demands. The plot concerns a group of seemingly well-off individuals enjoying an idyllic picnic in the woods when they are suddenly hijacked by a sociopathic guy and his gang who revel by inducing psychological torture on the group members – and punishing them if his authority is questioned. The group is however saved when a genteel man appears in the scene (who obviously had greater authority than the other guy) and invites them to the lavish lunch he has organized to celebrate his birthday. This allegorical and absurdist tale made terrific use of idiosyncratic and subversive humour to make disquieting observations on power-hungry dictators who ensure compliance to their diktats either through charming persuasive techniques or by letting their henchmen loose on dissenters. It also beautifully commentated on how moments of comfort can make most intelligent people forget more important things like freedoms of thought, choice and action. Suffice it to say, but for a brief reprieve during Prague Spring, the film remained banned till the Velvet Revolution of 1989.
Director: Jan Nemec
Genre: Comedy/Political Satire/Absurdist Comedy/Avant-Garde
Country: Czech Republic (erstwhile Czechoslovakia)