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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Czech Language

Introduction to Czech Film

The Czechoslovak New Wave

A healthy combination of a rich humanitarian tradition and state funding allowed for the Czechoslovak    New Wave to emerge in the early 1960s.  Unlike many other post World War II Eastern European  filmmakers who dealt with strict censorship, Czechoslovak filmmakers experienced greater freedom.  They emerged as the nation's most prominent dissenters, many of whom graduated from the Film and TV School of the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague (FAMU), including Miloš Forman, Jan Svěrák, Jan Němec, Jiří Menzel, and many others.  Although the movement cannot be pinned down to a particular set of characteristics, dark and absurd humor, innovative cinematography, the effect of Soviet culture on youth, and playfulness represent repeated themes and motifs. A close association with Czechoslovak literature also existed, which enabled many novels to come alive on screen. The end of  the movement came with the invasion of Czechoslovakia by the Soviet Union and other Warsaw Pact  nations.  Censorship dramatically increased and many of the filmmakers were forced to emigrate.  

The Czechoslovak New Wave movement has a storied history, but Czech cinema has many other facets in which you may be interested.  Some popular Library of Congress Subject Headings to begin your search include:

  • New wave films--Czechoslovakia

  • Motion pictures--Czechoslovakia--History

  • Motion pictures--Czechoslovakian
  • Foreign films--Czechoslovakia

  • Foreign films--Czech Republic

From Book to Film

Your favorite Czech book may have been made into a motion picture.  Below are some examples.  By clicking on the movie poster, you can learn more about the film from Czech sources similar to the Internet Movie Database.