Monday, January 16, 2023

Jan Palach Remembrance Day

Today is the first "significant day" of the year.  It's Jan Palach Remembrance Day and it commemorates his self-immolation in 1969 in protest of the Soviet-led invasion the year prior.  

It's a day worth paying attention to especially when you think of the similarities to what's going on today in Ukraine.  Alexander Dubček's liberal reforms caused the Soviet Union and most of the Warsaw Pact to invade Czechoslovakia

When Ukraine wanted to join the EU and NATO, Russia invaded.

I've heard the story of Jan Palach for years.  What I didn't know about was what happened afterwards.

The communist government didn't want him to be a martyr so it went after his family following his death.  A young lawyer, Dagmar Burešová, defended his family.  She spend most of her career representing dissident opposition leaders.  Following the Velvet Revolution, she became the country's first Minister of Justice.

In 2013, HBO Europe released a three-part miniseries called Hořící keř "Burning Bush" that tells the story  of Dagmar Burešová defending Palach's family.  The series was directed by Polish director Agnieszka Holland.

Following the success of the miniseries, Burning Bush was edited into a film.  It was selected as the Czech entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 86th Academy awards.  However, because it aired on Czech TV prior to the edited version appearing in the cinema, the movie was disqualified from the Oscars.

In 2013, it did win the Czech Lion for Best Film and for the Film Fans Award.

Here's the trailer, with English subtitles, that I found out on YouTube.


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