Proud of its ancient origins, the Czech Republic exhibits its many magnificent historical treasures. Starting with its capital, Prague, the magical city of a thousand spires, which seems to bend under the weight of its history and the Gothic spires that rise from its maze of small, medieval streets. But the Czech Republic is also reputed for its countryside, Bohemia, Moravia, its lush national parks which enfold many mysterious secrets, its lovely small towns and endless possibilities for outdoor activities.
The Czech Republic is particularly well known for its "New Wave", the name given to the Czech cinema that dusted off the old traditions in the middle of the 1960s, in the heart of the communist era. Milos Forman is one of the main and most illustrious instigators with his first films like "Loves of a Blonde" (1965) or the hilarious "Fireman's Ball" (1967)!
Other masterpieces of that time include:
- Closely Watched Trains, by Jiri Menzel, 1965
- Daisies, by Vera Chytilova, 1967
- The Party and the Guests, by Jan Nemec, 1966
If contemporary Czech cinema seems less well known internationally, it has loss none of its quality. To prove it, some of the films produced in recent years have received numerous awards in the Czech Republic but also abroad:
- Kolya, by Jan Sverak, 1996, which tells the disenchanted story of a former cellist of the philharmonic orchestra who is compelled to marry a Soviet woman in exchange for a fee. The woman escapes to West Germany, leaving him with her five-year-old son, Kolya, during the last few years of Czechoslovakia.
- Stetsi (Something like Happiness), by Bohdan Slama, 2005, a dramatic comedy that is set in the impoverished areas of the north of Bohemia, and tells of the difficulties caused by the economic changes and post-communist crisis that affected these regions and their disillusioned populations.
- Or any of the films by Jan Svankmajer, one of the most original Czech filmmakers. Known since the 1960s for his animated films and short films, Jan Svankmajer now excels in live action cinema. His films blend elements of surreal and horror, and his work has strongly influenced filmmakers like Tim Burton.
The Czech Republic has a strong literary tradition marked by many major writers. We will try to present the main authors with one of their most influential books. Don't hesitate to follow up your reading with their other works!
- Franz Kafka, The Metamorphosis, 1915
- Jaroslav Hasek, The Good Soldier Svejk, 1921
- Karel Capek, War with the Newts, 1936
- Bohumil Hrabal, I Served the King of England, 1971
- Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, 1984
- Patrik Ourednik, Europeana. A Brief History of the Twentieth Century, 2001