In 1968, Soviet tanks suppressed the Prague Spring, and Michal Noheji set the action of his debut film in an unnamed city in Czechoslovakia immediately after that terrible event. And the action of “Occupation” takes place during one night in the theater after the premiere of the play about the Czechoslovak hero of World War II, Julius Fučik. The performance, which only a few people came to see, is nothing special, and after the performance, the actors, the director and the director of the theater are arguing in the theater buffet. None of them are satisfied not only with the show, but also with the situation in which their country found themselves, but also with their own cowardice because they did nothing at all to oppose the Soviet occupation.
The older ones, like the director Jindrich (Martin Pechlát) and the director of the theater (Otakar Brousek), seem to be experiencing deja-vu because they feel that they behaved similarly a quarter of a century earlier when they were occupied by the Nazis. They are all angry, they insult each other, and the dynamic in the male society is slightly disturbed by the student Milada (Antonie Formanová), who came to interview the radical director Jindrich, who deceives himself that he is rebelling against the order through the theater, when in fact he is also a real conformist. And of course that gathering is seasoned with enormous amounts of alcohol, and as if it wasn’t enough that one of the actors is still dressed in an SS man’s costume, a drunken Russian officer (Aleksej Gorbunov) will break into the buffet.
This World War II veteran with obvious PTSD will start harassing Czechoslovak theatergoers, forcing them to drink with him at gunpoint, but they will wait for their moment of revenge. And what kind! This darkly humorous drama proved to be a pleasant surprise, and the film that won three awards in the selection for the best Czech film of the year (screenplay, supporting actress and music) out of a total of 14 nominations is also a fine subversive allegory. Although the story here is fictional, Noheji managed to capture the spirit of the times in an exceptional way, the disappointment among the inhabitants of Czechoslovakia that turns into anger out of resentment, despair and powerlessness to do anything. So all these characters, some of whom fled the danger of Prague when the situation boiled over somewhere in the provinces, warmed by alcoholic fumes, will feel that the time has come for some kind of rebellion, even if only on a symbolic level.
I love movies like this in which the authors play with patriotic pathos and even some national sanctuaries and perhaps not so much make fun of them, but ironize and make fun of a situation that was certainly not funny to anyone at the time. “Okupace” was filmed with a lot of style and although it mostly takes place in the same interior, a nice dynamic was achieved. The characters are interesting and good, conflicted and somewhere in the depths of their souls they all feel humiliated, miserable and cowardly because they allowed themselves to be trampled first by the Nazis and then by the Soviets all those years without a fight. It’s a film that exudes that typical Czech humor, so one of the characters says something like that they’re all nothing but scumbags on the heels of history, and we’ll see if this unusual companion has the courage and even the craziness to try to change the course of history, at least in some minimal way. , symbolic level.