Film director Milos Forman turns 70

Milos Forman, photo CTK

Today is the 70th birthday of the Czech film director who is best known to international audiences - Milos Forman. Forman was born in the small Bohemian town of Caslav and shot several highly successful films in Czechoslovakia before moving to the United States in the late 1960s, where he achieved world-wide fame. More from Alena Skodova:

Milos Forman,  photo CTK
Milos Forman's parents both died in a concentration camp, and he grew up in a children's home. After he graduated from the film faculty of the Prague Academy of Arts, he worked for Czech TV before becoming a film director at Prague's Barrandov studios. Milos Forman made several successful films in the 1960s, such as The Loves of a Blonde and The Firemen's Ball, but as he says now - he did not feel free behind the barbed wire of communist Czechoslovakia. A year after the country was occupied by Soviet troops in 1968 he decided not to come back home, and stayed in the United States. He started making films in the US, which was a totally different environment for him, says film critic Frantisek Fuka:

"Of course, in Hollywood, more than anywhere else, the main thing is business, the main thing is how much the movie will make. It doesn't matter so much for the studios whether the movie is good, and that is the thing anyone who shoots movies in the United States must be concerned with, so that is the basis of everything that is different in his movies."

In the United States, his first really big success was his adaptation of Ken Kesey's novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, starring Jack Nicholson. The film won five Oscars. Nine years later, Milos Forman made an even more successful film, Amadeus, which won him eight Oscars. Some of Milos Forman's films were rather controversial, such as the People Versus Larry Flint, but for his most recent film, Man on the Moon, he was awarded the Silver Bear for best director at the Berlin film festival in 2000. Frantisek Fuka says after his first film in the United States proved to be a flop, Milos Forman changed his approach:

"His first American movie was 'Taking Off' and it was very similar to the movies he shot in Czechoslovakia, and it was very unsuccessful in the United States. So he then had to thing what to shoot next, and I think in his other American movies there are more Hollywood style, but there are some elements that you can recognise from his previous Czechoslovak movies and this is a most complicated thing to balance these two thing within one movie."

In Czechoslovakia, Mr. Forman often worked with non-actors, could he afford this in America?

"Yes, he afforded it definitely, he tried it in his first movie and in other movies there are some elements of this, he also helped some actors to become famous, for instance in One Flew Over the Cuckoos' Nest. But again, in the United States it's more important to have a star, at least in the main role. I don't know if he would be able to make a movie in the U.S. with totally unknown people - I think the studios would not allow it nowadays."