Firemen's Ball was Czechoslovakian director Milos Forman's final film in his home country; he was scouting locations in Paris when the Russians moved their tanks into Prague in 1968 causing Forman to decide to remain an expatriate. Because of the supercharged political climate of the era, critics read all sorts of allegory and hidden meanings into the Firemen's Ball. Other critics simply accepted the film as the slapsticky tale of a disastrous small-town celebration in honor of a retiring fire chief, and laughed accordingly. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi
Theatrical Feature Running Time: 73 mins
The Firemen's Ball (1967)
One of the special features on the DVD was a director's discussion about the film and the controversy. In it he does imply and state that he was making fun of the bureaucracy of the socialist system. He clearly was not sympathetic to the socialist causes.
It is true the comedy of the whole movie was foremost his goal. A lot of slapstick comedy with even the start of the beauty pageant. It was more or less a gawk-fest of old men admiring younger although most not very attractive. For example, one girl takes the initiative to go get a bathing suit on under her clothes and thus models in the suit while the men are staring like little boys looking at a chocolate cake. When the time comes for the beauty pageant, only one girl has courage to come up on stage with the rest resisting with all their strength. Ultimately the girls all end up in the women's restroom until one of the fireman hear the fire alarm. After saving a few of the victims items, they go back to the pageant and one old woman is declared the winner.