The 1960s were an incredibly fertile time for Czech cinema, due in no small part to the liberal political reforms introduced by Alexander Dubcek. For a few short years, up until 1968 when the Soviet tanks came rolling in to crush what was known as the Prague Spring, films such as The Shop on Main Street, Daisies, The Fruit of Paradise, and Closely Watched Trains (just to name a few) gave international audiences a glimpse of life behind the Iron Curtain. Many of the films became part of what was known as the Czech New Wave, and inarguably the most well-known director to emerge from that time was Milos Forman, who had previously made the highly successful Loves of a Blonde (also available as part of The Criterion Collection). The Firemen's Ball, released just three weeks before the Soviets invaded, is a hilariously ironic political allegory that is as surreal as it is insightful. The film was eventually banned by the government and was the catalyst for Forman's move abroad, where he continued to make numerous award-winning and provocative films. The Criterion Collection's disc is superb, offering the film in a beautiful new remastered full-screen transfer. The vibrant colors look better than they ever have for home video, causing anyone who had previously viewed the film to see it with fresh new eyes. The Czech mono soundtrack (available with optional English subtitles) is fine as well. The disc also comes with a fascinating 15-minute video interview with Forman, where he discusses in detail the pros and cons of working under a communist regime as opposed to a market-driven one, his volatile business dealings with producer Carlo Ponti (who put up the money), and his subsequent tribulations maneuvering through the political waters of his country. Also included on the disc is a brief look at the film's restoration process in Prague which was supervised by the great Czech cinematographer Miroslav Ondricek. Informative liner notes are also enclosed.