Synopsis by Mark Deming
The Soviet Union's August 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia, ending the brief period of reform known as "Prague Spring," isn't usually played for laughs, but director Vladimir Drha explores the darkly funny side of this moment in history in this satiric comedy. Tomas (Ivan Luptak) is a Czech man in his early twenties who is about to leave home for the United Kingdom; his official reason for leaving is landing a job picking fruit, but the truth is he wants to defect to the West. However, as Tomas and his parents (Viktor Preiss and Pavla Tomicova) board a train leaving the country, tanks from the USSR are rolling into town, and Tomas and his folks find themselves stranded. The parents become nervous, recalling life under German occupation during World War II, but Tomas uses the unexpected break as an opportunity to make time with his girlfriend Tanya (Marie Stipkova). Meanwhile, one of the Russian soldiers who has marched into Czechoslovakia, Pyetya (Aleksei Bardukov), has a secret plan of his own -- he wants to go AWOL and flee to Germany where he can start a new life. Pyetya breaks free from his outfit and makes a run for freedom, but he gets lost, and when he stops at a garage with a German sign out front, he's certain he's reached Europe, when in fact he's still on Czech soil.