In The Firemen's Ball, Miloš Forman makes extensive use of a very crowded mise en scène in order to make his points about the absurdity and chaos of collective action in socialist societies. His frames are frequently packed with people, often moving rapidly and creating chaotic compositions that reveal isolated body parts and motion-blurred imagery. And yet, although Forman is attempting to capture the sense of chaos, his compositions still have a certain formal logic to them that defies their snatched-on-the-fly quality. This is especially true in the film's sublime beauty pageant sequence, a hilarious set-up in which the contestants all flee while the men in the audience attempt to capture them and, eventually, begin dragging entirely unrelated women on stage as well. This scene is particularly well structured despite its chaotic appearance, and Forman's formal and thematic concerns show through even in the most seemingly tossed-off visuals from this sequence.
Continue reading at the Film of the Month Club