The Lost Film of the Soviet Invasion of Czechoslovakia.
On the night of August 20, 1968, an invasion of 200,000 Warsaw Pact troops turned Czechoslovakia into an armed camp, shattering overnight the democratic hopes aroused by that country's Prague Spring. Massive resistance broke out immediately, as blue-jeaned youth, workers, and intellectuals spilled into the streets, confronting Soviet soldiers and tanks at every turn.
Czechoslovak cameramen, shooting undercover and on the run, captured these events on whatever 16mm film they could lay their hands on; their raw footage was subsequently smuggled out of the country by sympathetic tourists, journalists, and diplomats, and assembled by a production team in Paris.
The resulting film, combining this guerilla footage with Czechoslovak radio and television broadcasts from the same fateful hours, offers a remarkable cinematic record of the invasion and its aftermath: the spontaneous mobilizations at Wenceslaus Square, street skirmishes in Bratislava, Soviet raids on Czech radio stations, the eerie quiet of a massive general strike, and much more.
All copies of the film were inexplicably lost in the early 1970s, however, and it was a faded memory by 1987, when a Philadelphia antique salvager stumbled onto two 16mm film cases at a neighborhood junk mart.
Only when one of the film's makers chanced upon an initial screening was the film recognized for what it was; it has since gained a growing reputation as a stunning piece of cinema vérité, and an indispensable record of one of the Cold War's defining episodes.
With blunt immediacy, Prague '68 conveys the brute force, and frequent incomprehension, of the Soviet occupiers, as well as the stunned fury and courage of the Czechoslovak people.
Czechoslovakia, 1968, B&W, 37 minutes, English subtitles.
NTSC Region 0 encoding (Entire World)