Directed by Jaromil Jireš, drama, 80 min, eng subtitles, 16+
Written by Zdeněk Bláha, Jaromil Jireš (based on the novel by Milan Kundera)
With Josef Somr, Jana Dítětová, Luděk Munzar, Jaromír Hanzlík, Jaroslava Obermaierová, Evald Schorm
Based on Milan Kundera's novel of the same name, The Joke tells the story of Ludvík Jahn, a young man expelled from the Czechoslovak Communist Party and severely punished for an idle joke (a postcard to his girlfriend reading "Optimism is the opium of mankind! A healthy spirit stinks of stupidity! Long live Trotsky!"), and of the revenge he seeks years later in his life through adultery.
The film was produced during the political liberalisation of the 1968 Prague Spring and contains many scenes which satirise and criticise the country's communist leadership. The Joke is considered one of the last films of the Czech New Wave movement: it was released in 1969, some months after the August 1968 Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia had put an end to the freedoms of the Prague Spring. Though it was a success in theatres, authorities banned it for the next twenty years, making it "one of the New Wave’s most renowned casualties".
San Sebastian IFF 1969 (OCIC Award Winner)
With the support of the Czech Embassy in Luxembourg and the Czech Centre in Brussels