Wild and wacky tale of the late days of socialism in Czechoslovakia
I picked this up on DVD on a trip to Prague in 2010. This new edition DVD offers English language subtitles. Viewed some 19 years after its original release, "Kour" (which means "Smoke") certainly comes off as a weird and wonderful piece of comedy. With a head of hair that makes him look like a cross between Eraserhead and a young Lyle Lovett, young Mirek, played by Jan Slovak, arrives for his new job at the socialist factory that makes an unidentified product. He is put in charge of a report to recommend methods for reducing the pollution that the factory liberally spews into the environment. It is immediately clear that the powers that be at the factory don't really want him to change anything, and the workers are much too distracted to care. This is a parable for the condition of the socialist state, and it plays out fairly predictably. Fortunately, the bitter humor that the film is invested with redeems it. To add to this, the movie is a sort of musical... though the music will not appeal to everyone. One of the things I found interesting was that the film suggests that almost no one in its story is a totally innocent victim of the system. Everyone has collaborated in some way or other as part of the status quo. The same smoke that belches from the factory towers and wafts through the town as smog, is also emitted from the copious number of cigarettes that our "hero" and just about everyone else smokes. It's as if the filmmaker was saying "we've all contributed, in our way, to the pollution that surrounds us, and we're all going to have to improve ourselves as well as the government, if we ever want it to get better."
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