New Movies: The Way the Ball Bounces

In an unfree society, there are no innocent words. Congeries of meanings attach themselves to every noun used in an effort to dodge censorship. A spade is not merely a spade when it is raised as a symbol of defiance. A story is no longer simply a story when it is also a parable of men oppressed.

Director Milos Forman (Loves of a Blonde) made The Firemen's Ball, a delicious parody-fable of Slavic bureaucracy, in pre-Dubcek Czechoslovakia. In the film, a group of firemen stage a ball to give their retiring chief a gold-plated hatchet. The dance begins with a traditional...

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