Blu-Ray Review: The Party and The Guests

the guests at the party

They say that the pen is mightier than the sword and It’s true that, in the long run, it’s better to win hearts and minds than use intimidation, violence and fear. This is often easier said than done. The last thing oppressive regimes want is freedom of thought or expression. One of the best ways to subvert any state censorship is through satire. This happened a lot in communist countries during the Cold War. One of the most famous examples is The Party and The Guests (aka, A Report on the Party and Guests).

A small group of friends are enjoying a picnic in the woods before continuing their journey for a celebration. As they proceed, their accosted by a group of men, led by Rudolf (Jan Klusák), who steer them into a clearing. They’re ordered to stand in groups within a circle they cannot leave. One of the picnickers Karel (Karel Mares) objects, causing a disturbance which ends with him being harassed, before the host (Ivan Vyskocil) arrives and calms everyone down. Insisting it was just a joke.

The Party and The Guests is a scathing satire of authoritarianism, played out almost like an absurdist jamboree. It was unsurprisingly eventually ‘banned forever’ in Czechoslovakia. It was never likely to sneak past the censors, but then again I think director Jan Nemec was more focussed on the elements of surrealism which permeate this strange vision. The Party and The Guests is a singularly unusual and thought-provoking experience.  

Special features:

  • Newly filmed appreciation by author/film programmer Peter Hames.
  • New digital transfer with restored image and sound.
  • New and improved English subtitle translation.
  • Booklet featuring a new Essay by writer/DVD producer Michael Brooke.
  • Image Gallery.

The Party and The Guests is released on Blu-ray by Second Run on 31 January.

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