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Film / A Report on the Party and the Guests

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A Report on the Party and the Guests (O slavnosti a hostech, literally "about the festival and guests") is a 1966 film from the former Czechoslovakia, in Czech, directed by Jan Nemec.

It is a thinly veiled allegorical satire about communism in Czechoslovakia. Seven middle-aged bourgeois folks, four men and three women, are having a picnic in a forest glade. They are enjoying themselves and talking idly. They see a noisy wedding procession pass by. Suddenly a group of intimidating Mooks, led by a smiling but distinctively creepy fellow named Rudolf, usher the picnicking friends into a clearing. They produce a desk and chair out of nowhere, and Rudolf sits them down and starts questioning the picnickers...

Banned in Czechoslovakia by the Communist authorities. Later shown in that country during the "Prague Spring" of political freedom in 1968, then re-banned after Russian tanks restored authoritarianism, and not shown again there until after the Velvet Revolution that ended Communism in 1989.

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  • Allegory: Symbolic of totalitarian repression in Czechoslovakia. The picnic is pre-war days. The menacing Rudolf and his gang of thugs is reminiscent of fascism and the Nazi invasion. The Host is the Soviet Communist authority, wearing a mask of friendship and brotherhood, but just as intolerant of dissent. And the one guest with the glasses who joins up with the Host represents Czechs who collaborate with the Russians.
  • Bewildering Punishment: This film is often described as "Kafkaesque" and this was a favorite trope of Franz Kafka. Why do Rudolf and his goons descend on a group of picnickers? Why won't the Host let anyone leave?
  • Bilingual Bonus: "Slavnosti" could be translated as "festival" or "celebration", but when this movie was released in the Anglosphere it was rendered as "party", and then capitalized as "Party" as part of a title, making the political symbolism even more overt.
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  • Day of the Jackboot: Presented in a symbolic form, as a totalitarian state oppresses the people, who are generally passive and only too willing to comply.
  • Downer Ending: The picnickers are trapped in this party that they don't particularly want to attend. And if the crescendo of barking dogs at the end is any indication, the one man who tried to escape the party has been caught.
  • Fanservice: In the opening scenes before the bad guys show up, the ladies spot bathe in a stream, stripping to their underwear to do it.
  • Faux Affably Evil
    • Rudolf makes a parody of good manners, smiling, taking a guest by the arm, speaking pleasantly. But he won't let go of the guest's arm, his smile is a Psychotic Smirk, and he radiates menace.
    • The Host is more pleasant than Rudolf and does a better imitation of affability. But he too clearly won't tolerate dissent, as shown by his fury when one of the four men leaves the party.
  • A Fête Worse Than Death: The Host is throwing a combination wedding party and birthday party for himself. It doesn't end in human sacrifice or a black mass or anything, but instead it's a grim and joyless party that no one is allowed to leave, ever.
  • Kubrick Stare: Rudolf gives a quite chilling one when, as he is discussing the possibility of detaining one of of his guests, he leans over his desk and says "I only hope you won't be afraid in the dark." The Host is better at maintaining a mask of affability, but he delivers a similar stare when he's informed that one of the four male picnickers has left the party.
  • Les Collaborateurs: The most obsequious of the seven guests is eventually seated at the main table at the right side of the Host. Near the end he's given a rifle and referred to as a guard. One of his fellow guests says "When are you going to line us up?"
  • No Name Given: The bearded fellow who is in charge of everyone, and who is throwing the party, is only credited as "Host".
  • Psychotic Smirk: The entire time Rudolf has the guests detained, he wears just such a chilling smirk, while interrogating them and radiating menace.
  • Stocking Filler: One of the women bathing in the river is wearing a garter and stockings, and there is a closeup of her hooking stockings to garter.
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