ON AUGUST 21, 1968 soldiers from five Warsaw pact armies invaded what was then Czechoslovakia and with their tanks rolled over the hopes of Slovaks and Czechs for “socialism with human face” as envisioned by Alexander Dubček.
To mark the 40th anniversary of the intervention, the Slovak Film Institute in cooperation with the Petit Press publishing house has released a DVD called August 1968.
The DVD brings together three documentaries relating to different aspects of the tragic events of 1968 and their aftermath.
The first documentary, the Time We Live, runs 60 minutes and deals with the social revival in Czechoslovakia during the Prague Spring, a time of liberalisation of some of the structures established by earlier communist regimes.
Black Days is a special issue of A Week in Film newsreel giving witness to the military intervention of the Warsaw Pact troops.
It depicts the tanks and the soldiers as well civilian protesters standing up to the the invaders in the streets with passive resistance when “do nothing and know nothing” became the slogans of the day.
The Wake deals with the suppression of all democracy in Czechoslovakia following the intervention. Included in this rather gloomy segment is an account of the suicide of Jan Palach by self-immolation as a political protest.
The documentaries were made as a spontaneous response to those dramatic events of 1968, but they never received the exposure they deserved. They wound up in film vaults not long after they were completed.
These films, shot from January 1968 until January 1969 are true documentaries depicting authentically the atmosphere of Czechoslovak society at that time but since 40 years have elapsed and many younger people might not be so familiar with these events more explanatory notes might have been helpful.
The Slovak Film Institute released the DVD, with English and French subtitles, as the first in a series dedicated to the Slovak film of the 1960s.
(Petit Press is the publisher of The Slovak Spectator).
25. Aug 2008 at 0:00 | Compiled by Jana Liptáková from press reports