Czech Republic, 2013, 206 Minute Running Time
Topics: Drama, History, Woman Director
Program: Modern Masters
Language: Czech English Sub-Titles
Awards: Monte-Carlo: Outstanding Actor in a Mini-Series
In January 1969, university student Jan Palach set himself aflame in Prague’s Wenceslas Square to protest the Soviet occupation of his homeland. His brave deed and painful death sparked massive spin control by the Czech government and its Soviet overlords, rather than the expressions of dissent he hoped to inspire.
This is Agnieszka Holland’s feature-cut of her expertly-directed, three-part HBO Europe miniseries. It’s a compelling slice of history reminding us that fear can trump idealism and the truth doesn’t always lead to justice.
Rather than telling Palach’s story in straightforward biopic form, the film concentrates on the impact his self-immolation had within the social and political climate of the time. The action centers on charismatic attorney Dagmar Buresova who becomes part of Jan’s legacy by acting for his family in the legal case against the communist government, a regime that tried to dishonor Palach’s sacrifice.
"Burning Bush" is a taut, nuanced work that represents a valuable contribution to understanding the past half-century of Czech history.
DIRECTOR: Agnieszka Holland
Producer: Tomás Hruby
Editor: Pavel Hrdlicka
Screenwriter: Štepán Hulík
Cinematographer: Martin Štrba
Music: Antoni Komasa-Lazarkiewicz
Principal Cast: Tatiana Pauhofovå
Filmography: In Darkness (2011)
Copying Beethoven (2006)
Washington Square (1997)
The Secret Garden (1993)
Europa Europa (1990)
To Kill a Priest (1988)
Print Source: HBO Europe s.r.o.
Official Film Website