Cold-war drama ‘Brothers’ hits Czech cinemas


The film ‘Brothers’, based on the Cold War story of the controversial Mašín brothers who formed an armed resistance group and fought their way out of communist Czechoslovakia to freedom in the West,  premiered in Prague on Wednesday night before its official release in cinemas around the country. The film, which has been selected by the Czech Film and Television Academy as the Czech Oscar nominee for 2024, captures one of the most divisive stories of the Cold War. 

Brothers | Photo: Zuzana Panská,  CinemArt
The Mašín brothers,  Ctirad and Josef with Milan Paumer around 1950 | Photo: Archives of Ctirad Mašín//Memory of the nation

Josef and Ctirad Mašín, sons of the executed anti-Nazi resistance fighter Josef Mašín, went down in history when they and Milan Paumer, another member of their armed resistance group, managed to evade capture and escape to West Berlin in 1953. They are regarded by some as heroes, but many others consider them to be cold-blooded murderers, since they killed six people as they fought their way out of the country.

The story, captured on film by director Tomáš Mašín, a distant relative of the Mašín brothers, was considered so powerful and well-portrayed that it was selected by the Czech Film and Television Academy as the Czech Oscar nominee for 2024.

Tomáš Mašín | Photo: Elena Horálková,  Czech Radio

Its premiere in Prague on Wednesday night was a highly anticipated event. The only surviving member of the group –Josef Mašín - was notably absent. Possibly for health reasons, but very likely due to his strong convictions. He has not set foot in the country since escaping from Czechoslovakia in 1953. Although he was often invited to visit after the fall of communism, he was critical of developments in his homeland, most of all the fact that the communist party was never banned.

Tomáš Mašín during the filming of the film 'The Brothers' | Photo: Zuzana Panská,  CinemArt

However, the film’s director Tomáš Mašín, gave him a special pre-screening at his home in the US and Mašín reportedly liked the movie, particularly the way it portrayed his mother.

Tomáš Mašín says that he wanted the movie to be a testimony of the fate of a family caught up in the turbulent events of the country’s communist history. He says that in this context the role of the mother was particularly important.

“I wanted to show that the women of the time were as brave as the men that this story is centred around and maybe even braver.”

Tatiana  (Tanya) Dyková  (left) | Photo: CinemArt

Actress Tanya Dyková, who plays the part of the mother, says she greatly enjoyed the filming and urged people to go and watch the film before making up their mind about the Mašíns, as the film portrays the events without telling people what to think.

One viewer who is able to judge just how well the story is told is Zdena Mašínová, sister to the Mašín brothers, who was jailed by the communists after they escaped.

Zdena Mašínová | Photo: Filip Jandourek,  Czech Radio

According to media reports Zdena Mašínova is one of the personalities to whom President Pavel will award a high state distinction on October 28, at a ceremony marking Czechoslovak Independence Day. Mašínová, who last year refused to accept a state honour for her father from the hands of then president Miloš Zeman, has indicated that she would accept an award from President Pavel.

Brothers | Photo: CinemArt
Author: Daniela Lazarová | Sources: Český rozhlas , Česká televize
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