Criticism of the system tended to be oblique prior to 1968, when the reform Communism of the Prague Spring effectively abolished censorship but continued to fund its filmmakers. Nonetheless, there were some powerful wo...展开rks even before this. A director of the older generation, Ladislav Helge (b. 1927), made some strong internal criticisms with his film Skola otcu (School for Fathers, 1957), about a teacher fighting a battle against hypocrisy masked by ideological correctness.
Skola Otcu is an interesting example of Czech cinema during the post-Stalinist thaw. Hoger plays a reformist school teacher who arrives in a Czech border town to instill some standards. Here, remarkably, is an individual standing up against the collective. Even the class brat is the head of the Pioneers. More neorealism than social realism (there's even a bicycle thief), director Ladislav Helge's small, quiet film also seems to have served as some inspiration for Bohdan Slama's recent Venkovsky ucitel.
The Czech and Slovak New Waves undoubtedly contributed to the political reform movement of the 1960s, and formed part of the Prague Spring attempts to combine democracy and Socialism—in effect, glasnost twenty years before Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev initiated the reforms that led to the end of the Cold War. The Warsaw Pact invasion and suppression of these earlier reforms led, perhaps inevitably, to the banning of writers, artists, and filmmakers. Over 100 films were banned, and Forman, Passer, Kadar, Weiss, Jasny, Nemec, and Barabas went into exile. Helge, Schorm, and Juracek found their film careers at an end while others were forced into compromises with the regime.