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Czechoslovakia 1918-1968 (1969)

Czechoslovakia 1968 (original title)
Short documentary about 50 years of history of Czechoslovakia, with archive images.
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Won 1 Oscar. Another 1 win. See more awards »

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Cast

Uncredited cast:
Leonid Brezhnev ...
Himself (archive footage) (uncredited)
Neville Chamberlain ...
Himself (archive footage) (uncredited)
Alexander Dubcek ...
Himself (archive footage) (uncredited)
...
Himself (archive footage) (uncredited)
Ludvík Svoboda ...
Himself (archive footage) (uncredited)
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Storyline

A virtually wordless visual history of Czechoslovakia from 1918 to 1968, with the last half focusing on the events of the Prague Spring of 1968 when Soviet tanks entered the city to suppress the political and cultural liberalization of the time. The residents of Prague are seen protesting and mobilizing their political strength against the Soviet troops; Alexander Dubcek, leader of the liberal forces as secretary of the Czech Communist Party, is prominently featured. Written by scgary66

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never forget what happened in 1968
18 January 2016 | by (Portland, Oregon, USA) – See all my reviews

Robert Fresco's and Denis Sanders's "Czechoslovakia 1968" looks mainly at Czechoslovakia's history from its founding through the Warsaw Pact invasion that eviscerated the political liberalization. Consisting entirely of footage with no dialogue, it shows the country's days as a predominantly agricultural society, and then the Nazi occupation, and then Soviet takeover. A good trick that the documentary uses is to slow the background music right before the 1968 invasion.

Beyond this, the events shown in the documentary need to get seen in the context of everything that happened in 1968. The Vietnam War dominated the international scene, and the liberalization in Czechoslovakia - commonly known as Prague Spring - reflected the hippie movement and anti-war movement in the US. The assassinations of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy caused much of the Civil Rights Movement to collapse. There was also the student uprising in Paris that the DeGaulle government crushed. One of the most important events was the demonstration outside the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, protesting the election of the pro-war Hubert Humphrey. In fact, Richard Daley called in the Illinois National Guard at almost the same time that Soviet tanks entered Prague.

And then there were the Olympics in Mexico City. A number of students saw that the world's attention would be focused on the city, and so they wanted to draw attention to political issues in Mexico (in particular the government's ban on protests). When they converged in Tlatelolco, the Mexican army opened fire on them. Despite the government's hope that this would suppress anything political at the games, John Carlos and Tommie Smith raised their fists to draw attention to racism in the US, and Věra Čáslavská looked down while the Soviet anthem played to protest the invasion of her country.

And finally, Nixon got elected president. Nineteen sixty-seven had seen the Summer of Love, and then the following year ended the era of idealism. Alexander Dubček's reforms gave way to full-scale authoritarianism. It's for these reasons that I often say that the Eastern and Western Blocs had more in common than most people admit.

Anyway, it's a good documentary. What happened in the world in 1968 must never get forgotten.


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