“Cozy Dens” is the English translation from the Czech of the title of a 1999 award winning movie that was shown last night at the Avalon as part of their one-Wednesday-a-month Czech film series. We see as many as we can (i.e., we see them when we remember to go).
It is 1968, the time of the Prague spring, when the flowers were blooming and Communism seemed like it did not have to be that bad. You don’t see the beauty of central Prague, though. The world is concentrated on an apartment building, and a nearby school. Two families live in the building, one headed by an irascible anti-Communist who fought the Nazis, and the other by an equally irascible pro-bureacuracy, pro-socialist retired military officer. Each is impossible to live with, but each has a long suffering wife. The anti-Communist has an 18 year old daughter and the former officer an 18 year old son, both of whom wish they could be somewhere else.
Of course there are complications. The 18 year old girl likes the boy down the street, who is much more suave than the officer’s son. The wife of the anti-Communist dies, and he and the sister of the wife of ex-officer (who has been looking for a father for her younger son) inexplicably hit it off.
The movie is a comedy, with some extraordinarily unexpected funny moments. You smile the whole way, even when you are grimacing. But it doesn’t end well. Because at the end of the movie, at the end of the spring, the Russian troops pour in, and the Russian aircraft buzz the city, trapping all concerned, it appears, for the next twenty years into a society that, in 1968, they thought was all behind them.
Oh, Russia. Invading a smaller, undefensible country. Well, that was 40 years ago. Now, that would never happen, right?