Really good Czech movies (with lousy endings)

Czech movies are by far some of the best you will ever see. They are also the worst endings you will ever see, but don’t let that stop you from seeing them. The people are beautiful, the stories are tragic, the language is confusing, and many of these films show lots of boobies.

The Fireman’s Ball – Hands down the best Czech movie ever created (in my opinion). Directed and co-written by Milos Foreman (Hair, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Man on the Moon). The movie was banned from Czechoslovakia at the time because it appeared to have a Socialist agenda to it. Foreman said he just wrote how people naturally are. The beauty contest scene is hilarious! The ending is one of the better ones.

Closely Watched Trains – Another great film produced back in the 60s. This was the era after German occupation and before Russian occupation. These poor people were pwned so many times. Anyways, it’s about a guy who works at a train station that’s too old to be a virgin (in their country, that’s like 18 or something) so he looks for a girl, gets involved in some pretty funny situations, and the ending sucks. Super movie though.

Valerie and Her Week of Wonders – I’ll just let another site say this for you all: “Part gothic horror film, part children’s story, part soft porn, part political allegory, Valerie and Her Week of Wonders is one of the most famous horror films that Czechoslovakia has produced.”

Little Otik – My husband told me that when children are bad their parents talk to them about Oticanek. It’s about a childless farming couple, and the wife wants a baby really bad and her husband feels terrible that they can’t produce children together. So he finds a stump that looks just like a baby and gives it to her as a present… and one day.. the stump comes alive. After that it gets freaky. Super movie, I couldn’t watch it to the end because a walking stump that cried like a baby spooked me.

Kolya – This won an Oscar for the Best Foreign Film and rightly so. Beautiful story about a confirmed bachelor who has the unfortunate task of taking care a little boy for a period of time. Set during the revolution, you can see what it’s like to live in Communist Czech and then what it was like during the Velvet Revolution. I can’t recommend this enough.

Autumn Spring – An old man is dying but refuses to accept his age or his state of health. All he does is play pranks on people (less geriatric Jackass and more like Candid Camera stuff, without cameras) and get into trouble. You’ll fall in love with him and his friend. One of the better Czech endings.

Zelary – WWII movie about a married woman who’s husband is captured and she has to flee the country and seek shelter in a remote part of Czech (not hard to find, lots of remote places there) and she ends up living in a village with a bachelor and has to play the role of his wife. Great story.. but sadly, I don’t remember the ending.

Alice – I haven’t seen it but it shows the animation genius of Jan Svankmajer (kind of like The Brothers Quay)

Divided We Fall – Story about a couple who hides a Jew in their home. Some funny moments, some moving moments, and worth every minute of it.

So why would I warn you about Czech endings? It’s not because I want to spoil the surprise for you, but it’s me warning you. I’ve spoken about it in the past about these movie endings and how Czechs see art as imitating life, so to them.. life is hard and it can end not the way you want it to.
I’m an American, give me instant gratification and happy endings. However, I love the old culture that I married into and I respect it because the beauty of those people run through the blood of our daughter. But I still curse Hubby out at the ending of a Czech movie, “WHY DID I WATCH THIS?!”

23 thoughts on “Really good Czech movies (with lousy endings)

  1. I’m an absinthe fan. There’s a lot of interest in whether absinthe was produced and drunk in the Czech Republic before 1990. I looked out for it in Closely Observed Trains. Nothing. I wondered whether you/your husband would ever have noticed anything in one of the older Czech films …

  2. My (american) husband LOVES autumn spring!!!! I think it’s one of his top 3 actually….
    I would have to say that Kolya was my favorite though. that Russian kid is an awesome actor, isn’t he?

  3. PS: Little Otik is a little too much for me…crying walking stump…no, thank you!
    It doesn’t sound so bad when it is in a fairytale form though!

  4. Pingback: Top Czech movies in America / Nejoblibenesi ceske filmy v Americe

  5. I am sad to see that you didn’t include “S tebou me bavi svet”, loosely translated as “With you I enjoy the world”, which was voted as the number one comedy of the century.
    I have this movie on a DVD and made it a point for my american husband to watch it (I am a full blooded Czech and have seen it probably at least 30 times).
    Some of the jokes do get lost in translation unfortunately, and it helps to have somebody who knows the culture to explain a few things. But overall I believe it’s one of the best Czech films ever.

  6. Hello,
    I am suprised at the list. Majority of these movies are new. I think that the older movies ( communist era) were much better. A lot of the current movies are too Hollywoody, not my cup of tea.
    Here are some of our favourite movies ( our family that is) with or without lousy endings:
    S Tebou me bavi svet
    Vrchni, prchni
    Smrt krasnych srncu
    Obchod na korze
    vetsina ceskych pohadek a vecernicku Pysna princezna, Princezna se zlatou hvezdou, Byl jednou jeden kral etc., etc.
    vecernicky Pat a Mat ( these do not get lost in translation, anyone can watch it!)

  7. I’m sure I missed a ton of awesome Czech movies. I’m just at the mercy of distribution of these movies that may or may not have been translated. I can’t leave that up to my husband because he’s AWFUL at translating.. love him, but he’s bad at it.
    I think I’ve seen S Tebou me bavi set. I’ll have to ask Hubby about it.

    Now other movies I love is of course the fairytales.. and the ones about the small village, but I don’t remember the name. It’s a series of movies.. maybe 3 of them?

  8. i was wondering if u knew of a movie set in czechoslovacia during ww2 it was i believe about two brothers in the resistance at the end they held off the germans in the basement of a church and the germans flooded the basement after failing to get to them the brothers hugged at he end standing neck deep in water and shot each other in the back of the head while hugging could u help me find this movie??
    thanks shawn

    • I think it’s Operation Daybreak (1975). I’ve been trying to find the exact same film and think I might have just got it. Good Luck.

  9. I had the good fortune of being in Prague when Kolja came out. Very sweet movie. During that visit I saw another movie by the makers of Kolja, Akumulator 1. I remember it being a lot of fun. I’ve never seen it available in the U.S. though.

  10. Oh yea.. I know that movie. Hubby had to translate the whole thing for me. I love that actor… and so glad that he’s nearly in every Czech movie. 🙂
    I joked with Hubby that it isn’t a Czech movie unless Zdenek Sverák is in it. Heh

  11. Hi I am despertly looking for some entertaining movies for my mom, she lost her daughter from cancer and her husband. I wish to surprise her with some great movies that will make her smile Thank You!!!


  13. I am trying to find the Czech movie where the opening scene has two american pilots who are about to bomb Japan and at the same time there is a japanese couple who are complaining about the rain which is what keeps the pilots from dropping the bomb on their city. If anybody knows the title please let me know. The rest of the movie was very good and very well put together but I can not remember the title.

  14. Well, I´m Czech and I often watch Czech movies but I don´t like new ones very much. My favourite ones were made before 1950, with actors and actresses such as Vlasta Burian, Adina Mandlová, Hugo Haas or Nataša Gollová. I recommend them :).
    But Valérie a týden divů (in English Valerie and Her Week of Wanders) is awesome!

  15. Try to find a movies on youtube with english subtitles … (user MrDenisseinfeld) has maybe 10 old czech movies with sub!

  16. I have mixed opinions about the above listed movies. I love the late sixtieś movies. Besides The Fireman’s Ball, it is the Světáci (playboys?) Bílá paní (White lady?), Cerny Petr (Black Peter) etc. Later movies worth mentioning are Marecku podejte mi pero (Marecek, pass me a pen :), Vesnicko ma strediskova (My sweet little village). Esthetically awesome movies are those made by Vlacil (Marketa Lazarova, Valley of Bees, Devils trap), the movie Witches Hammer by Vavra. Good movies by Chytilova are Fauns very late afternoon and The Inheritance. Generally speaking movies shot after the 1990 suck quite a lot, especially those anyhow dealing with WWII or 1969 Prague summer. The light exceptions are Pelisky (Cosy dens), Divided we fall. Other good modern movies are Loners, Zapomenuté světlo (Forgotten light), Pribehy obycejneho silenstvi. Generally speaking if Bolek Polivka or Ivan Trojan perform in the movie it will not be that bad.

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