New Film Canon to aid teaching of film aesthetics and history at Czech schools


Professionals in the Czech film industry have put together a new Film Canon of both domestic and international productions to be used as a teaching aid in Czech elementary and secondary schools. The choice of top films includes both Czech and world classics from Juraj Herz’s Spalovač Mrtvol (The Cremator) to Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction.

Jiří Králík, a lifelong film specialist, initiated the project:

“I’ve been involved in teaching film history and aesthetics for around 30 years. Ten years ago I put together my first book on the subject and in the latest project I was inspired by a similar film canon put together by screenwriter/director Paul; Schrader (of Taxi Driver fame). In the Czech Republic, 82 experts – including critics and others helped put together the list. Something like this was largely needed.”

According to Mr Králík, although the Czech Republic boasts a world-famous film academy, film is often poorly taught or not taught at all at lower levels, the subject of extracuricular interest or activity. Jiří Králík is confident the canon, which will be updated yearly and posted on the Czech-Slovak film database, will help.

There are three subcategories in the Czech-made Film Canon which include important artistic works (such as Orson Welles’ Citizen Cane), blockbusters (like Star Wars) and more experimental works. Czechoslovak films that feature on the list include 1965’s The Shop on Main Street, which won Best Foreign-language Oscar or the animated film Jan Werich’s Fimfárum). The canon also could not be complete without One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest; Jiří Králík again:

“We asked those who helped put together the canon to also vote with their hearts, and obviously One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, directed by the Czech born Miloš Forman, has special meaning. Although it is set in the US, many here who grew up in the totalitarian regime could relate to the futility of the main character’s struggle and his fight against authority. This film, like Amadeus, has also often been shown on TV here in the last 20 years and viewers are very familiar with it. They don’t have quite as close ties to films like The Godfather, for example, simply because the film did not enter wider distribution before.”