A TRIAL IN PRAGUE (56 min.)
2000, 56 min. (also available in 83 min. version)
Purchase: $265 Classroom Rental: $90
This video chronicles an infamous political show trial that took place in Czechoslovakia at the height of the Cold War. In 1952 fourteen leading Communists, including Rudolf Slansky, the second most powerful man in the country, were tried on charges of high treason and espionage. Although they were innocent, they confessed and were convicted. Most of the men were hanged and three received life sentences. Eleven of the fourteen were Jews.
The story of the trial and the paranoia of the period is told through archival footage, extensive documentation and interviews, including Lise London, whose late husband Artur wrote The Confession, a memoir of the trial; Eduard Goldstucker, the first Czech Ambassador to Israel, who was jailed and forced to testify at the trial; and Jan Kavan, the present Czech Minister of Foreign Affairs, whose father was also a trial witness. What led these men to their passionate belief in Communism and why did they publicly confess to crimes they did not commit? The video explores these questions, as well as the role of Moscow, the motives for the trial and its anti-Semitic nature. It deals with the personal stories of the condemned men and the legacy they left their children.
Subjects & Collections
Reviews"Sensitive, intelligent & moving ... shows the human face of both communism and its victims" - New York Times
"Powerful, important" - New York Post
"Chilling, gripping ... it illuminates from within some of the subtler attractions of communism" - The New Republic
"Powerful documentary ... while Trial provides a solid historical context, its strength lies in its intimate and compelling portrait of the people involved" - Time Out New York: Critics' Picks
"* * * 1/2" - The Daily News
"Compelling…a grim, powerful reminder of the abuses of government, and an unsensationalized look at the humanity of its victims" (Boston Globe)
"Harrowing and enlightening, a tale that even Kafka would find hard to imagine" - (Boston Phoenix)
"Measured, informative…neatly structured" (Variety).
"A Trial in Prague is a powerful introduction to a violent era in European history. It analyses a traumatic historical event in terms of personal experiences, hence the film is accessible and engrossing. If you want to learn about Stalinism in its most aggressive form, watch this film."-Political Communication