Taste of Cinema's 35 Visually Stunning Czech/Slovak Films That Are Worth Your Time

Taste of Cinema's 35 Visually Stunning Czech/Slovak Films That Are Worth Your Time's icon

Created by bjornam.

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"The cinema of former Czechoslovakia, as well as of current Czech Republic and Slovakia, is, perhaps, the richest and most visually striking of all Eastern Europe. Even though fun-as-bricks Commies have tried the best they could to stifle it, the zany and wonderful artistic visions found a way to reach the audience.

From the very beginning, the traditions of visual audacity reigned supreme, due in a large part to cultural traditions rich in imagery, imagination, symbolism, and surrealism. From medieval castles to Kafka, from puppet theatre to theatre of the absurd-all the filmmakers had to do is mine the fantastic and hilarious cultural gold.

It may be noticed that a large portion of the films in this list are from the 1960’s. It really was the true Golden era of Czechoslovakian cinema. The so-called “Czech New Wave” rivals the French one in freshness of ideas and unique works. Slovakian cinema too came into prominence at that time. Though a Communist country, Czechoslovakia espoused a more humane and breathable variety.

It all changed after 1968, when Soviet tanks rolled in and the so-called “socialism with a human face” was crushed. The best filmmakers either left for the West (Milos Forman, Ivan Passer), were condemned to periods of silence and inactivity (Jan Svankmajer, Jan Nemec), or had to find ways to retain their creativity while not crossing the multiple taboos that the oppressive regime forced upon them.

Of course, the restrictions largely went away with the fall of Communism, but now new realities set in-those of market economy, changing political and societal structure, and competition with the worst of the West. The fact that they continue making worthwhile and creative works is the best testament to their talent and spirit.

A note-in this list, Czech and Slovak filmmakers are presented jointly. In reality, their visions, though equally striking, do differ. Czechs urbanized fairly early, and benefitted from both the dark medieval city streets and the “wonders” of technological revolution. Whereas, even for the large parts of XXth century, Slovakia remained more rural.

While both Czech and Slovak cinemas benefit greatly from surrealism motifs, their respective surrealisms are often as different as the city is from the village, though taking away nothing from the visual feast."

Missing from imdb: #22. Dies Irae (1972)/Insane Light (1973) and the overall cinema of Petr Skala

Vlacil's trilogy (Devil's Trap, Valley of the Bees, Marketa Lazarova) is given one entry in the source list.

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  1. 1 new


    1933 — a.k.a. Ecstasy, in 4 top lists Check
  2. 2 new

    Císaruv pekar - Pekaruv císar

    1952 — a.k.a. The Emperor and the Golem, in 1 top list Check
  3. 3 new

    Staré povesti ceské

    1953 — a.k.a. Old Czech Legends, in 2 top lists Check
  4. 4 new

    Lev a písnicka

    1959 — a.k.a. The Lion and the Song, in 1 top list Check
  5. 5 new

    Baron Prásil

    1962 — a.k.a. The Fabulous Baron Munchausen, in 2 top lists Check
  6. 6 new

    Dáblova past

    1962 — a.k.a. The Devil's Trap, in 1 top list Check
  7. 7 new

    Údolí vcel

    1968 — a.k.a. Valley of the Bees, in 3 top lists Check
  8. 8 new

    Marketa Lazarová

    1967, in 8 top lists Check
  9. 9 new

    O necem jiném

    1963 — a.k.a. Something Different, in 1 top list Check
  10. 10 new

    Bláznova kronika

    1964 — a.k.a. The Jester's Tale, in 0 top lists Check
  11. 11 new

    Limonádový Joe aneb Konská opera

    1964 — a.k.a. Lemonade Joe, in 2 top lists Check
  12. 12 new

    ...a pátý jezdec je Strach

    1965 — a.k.a. ...and the Fifth Horseman Is Fear, in 2 top lists Check
  13. 13 new

    Postava k podpírání

    1963 — a.k.a. Joseph Kilian, in 2 top lists Check
  14. 14 new

    Intimní osvetlení

    1965 — a.k.a. Intimate Lighting, in 4 top lists Check
  15. 15 new

    Perlicky na dne

    1965 — a.k.a. Pearls of the Deep, in 2 top lists Check
  16. 16 new

    Kdo chce zabít Jessii?

    1966 — a.k.a. Who Wants to Kill Jessie?, in 2 top lists Check
  17. 17 new

    Ostre sledované vlaky

    1966 — a.k.a. Closely Watched Trains, in 14 top lists Check
  18. 18 new


    1966 — a.k.a. Daisies, in 17 top lists Check
  19. 19 new

    Panna zázracnica

    1967 — a.k.a. Miraculous Virgin, in 0 top lists Check
  20. 20 new

    Zbehovia a pútnici

    1968 — a.k.a. The Deserter and the Nomads, in 2 top lists Check
  21. 21 new


    1990, in 4 top lists Check
  22. 22 new

    Spalovac mrtvol

    1969 — a.k.a. The Cremator, in 8 top lists Check
  23. 23 new

    Valerie a týden divu

    1970 — a.k.a. Valerie and Her Week of Wonders, in 7 top lists Check
  24. 24 new

    Obrazy starého sveta

    1972 — a.k.a. Pictures of the Old World, in 4 top lists Check
  25. 25 new

    Tri orísky pro Popelku

    1973 — a.k.a. Three Wishes for Cinderella, in 1 top list Check
  26. 26 new

    Moznosti dialogu

    1983 — a.k.a. Dimensions of Dialogue, in 5 top lists Check
  27. 27 new

    Tajemství hradu v Karpatech

    1981 — a.k.a. The Mysterious Castle in the Carpathians, in 0 top lists Check
  28. 28 new

    Tisícrocná vcela

    1983 — a.k.a. The Millennial Bee, in 1 top list Check
  29. 29 new

    Krvavý román

    1993 — a.k.a. Horror Story, in 0 top lists Check
  30. 30 new


    1994 — a.k.a. Lesson Faust, in 1 top list Check
  31. 31 new


    1996 — a.k.a. Kolya, in 4 top lists Check
  32. 32 new


    2000 — a.k.a. Wild Flowers, in 0 top lists Check
  33. 33 new


    2003, in 1 top list Check
  34. 34 new


    2008 — a.k.a. The Karamazov Brothers, in 0 top lists Check
  35. 35 new

    Na pude aneb Kdo má dneska narozeniny?

    2009 — a.k.a. In the Attic: Who Has a Birthday Today?, in 0 top lists Check
  36. 36 new

    Prezít svuj zivot (teorie a praxe)

    2010 — a.k.a. Surviving Life (Theory and Practice), in 1 top list Check
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Last updated on May 23, 2016; source