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123 Ratings

Burning Bush (Part 1)

Horící ker

Directed by Agnieszka Holland
Czech Republic, 2013
Drama, Biography, TV Mini-series
  • Czech
  • English


Student Jan Palach sets himself on fire at Wenceslas Square in Prague in January 1969, insisting that there will be other ‘torches’ unless the oppression of Czechoslovakia by Soviet forces is relaxed.

Our take

For your binge-viewing pleasure, an arthouse epic! A celebrated writer/director in world cinema, later tapped for episodes of The Wire, Agnieszka Holland brought to HBO Europe this acclaimed miniseries on the fall of communism—swift, gripping, with fire in its belly.

Burning Bush (Part 1) Directed by Agnieszka Holland
Holland never risks overlooking the hardship that comes with being on the right side of history. “Burning Bush” is a riposte to the idea that there’s anything beautiful about dying for your beliefs. Lindsay Anderson once wrote that “Revolution is the opiate of the intellectuals,” and Holland has never partaken. She’s never allowed herself to get swept up in the romance of change, never turned a blind eye to how desperate life can look when the powers that be have decided it isn’t worth anything.
June 13, 2014
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Agnieszka Holland’s brilliant, ambitious, and moving new film, Burning Bush, begins at a violent and traumatic moment in Czech history… Part of what makes the film so affecting—and what makes it length seem so necessary—is the pace and patience with which it documents the gradual change undergone by its protagonists, and by the society in which they live…
June 11, 2014
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Prague in the late sixties was one of the epicenters of 20th-century life, a place and time that gave the measure of that mad century and of our capacity for dissidence, and fathoming it is to perhaps know something concrete about institutional power, mass folly and hope. If you’re not Czech or Slovak, the fiery legacy of Palach might be complete news to you, and a thorough, earnest distillation of history like Burning Bush can come as a revelation.
June 11, 2014
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