The Fireman’s Ball – Blu-Ray Re-Release Review

It’s the annual firemen’s ball in a small Czech town, and the organisers decide to liven up the usually dull event with a raffle and a beauty contest. But with the former plagued by thievery and the latter by bribery, the event rapidly descends into farce – and that’s before a fire breaks out…

This classic Czech comedy by Miloš Forman was banned forever by the Czech Communist authorities of the day, luckily for us though that didn’t stop it taking its Oscar nominated place amongst the all time greatest Czech films. Today The Fireman’s Ball makes it’s restored blu-ray debut. Here’s our take on the disc…

Audio and Visuals

A great restoration job has been done here with every frame looking clean and fresh. In fact there’s even a short piece on the disk demonstrating the quality of the job done here. As is typical of Arrow’s releases you can feel the care which has been put into this product and that really means something when you sit down to watch it. The film still maintains the look and tactile feel and yet otherwise could have been filmed yesterday it looks so good. It’s a real joy to watch and listen to, an easy 100% rating.

 Presentation

Nice artwork, a well presented menu system and overall a very polished complete package. The menu, whilst easy to navigate and attractive to look at isn’t as impressive visually as other Arrow releases have been where we would be content to simply sit and watch the menu for ages. That’s not much of a criticism as it’s still good looking and functional, but it doesn’t have the wow factor we have seen in the past.

Extras

A really nice selection of extras here; apart from the video on the restoration mentioned earlier we have a very interesting and insightful video in which Czech film expert David Sorfa praises the film and gives the casual viewer a really good idea of the film in social and political context, there is also a detailed piece on the unknown faces of the Czech New Wave and archival interviews with director Miloš Forman, cinematographer Miroslav Ondricek and co-writer Ivan Passer.

This collection of features gives a really nicely balanced introduction to both the film and the world it was responding to whilst also providing plenty  of interest for those already familiar with the Czech New Wave. They do exactly what they should; enhancing the viewers appreciation of the film they have just watched and giving them trails of enquiry which they can go off and research themselves should they wish to learn even more.

Overall

It’s oh so very easy to simply award high marks to any Arrow release simply because of how reliably polished and high quality their releases tend to be, and yet we examine them in minute detail to try and give them a fair assessment. Still, we have to conclude that this is another excellent release which looks and sounds superb and has extra features that compliment and enhance the film and your appreciation for the Czech New Wave in equal measure. An excellent piece of work.


Arrow Academy released The Fireman’s Ball in fully restored glorious 4K digital transfer and released it on dual format Blu-ray and DVD on 12th October. You can order it from Arrow themselves, from Amazon and every self-respecting retailer

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