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SPRINGTIME EUPHORIA

Czech New Wave films are shown around the world, as Menzel’s Closely Observed Trains wins an Oscar, and Olinka Schoberová, the Czech Brigitte Bardot, is featured on the cover of Playboy in America. In the meantime, Otto Wichterle invents contact lenses and the gymnast Věra Čáslavská wins four gold medals at the Mexico Olympics. However, the euphoria is soon to end as Warsaw Pact tanks roll in…

1960 800 000 people work out at the Spartakiada mass synchronised gymnastics display.

1961 Russian astronaut Yuri Gagarin visits Prague. The communists remove the Stalin monument. Otto Wichterle makes the first contact lenses at home, using an apparatus made from a Merkur construction set.

1962 Jonah and the Music Hall premieres at the Semafor Theatre.

1963 Václav Havel’s play The Garden Party is staged at the Na Zábradlí Theatre. The pop group Olympic is formed. Vojtěch Jasný’s film Cassandra Cat wins a prize at Cannes. Karel Hubáček starts building Ještěd, for which he later receives the Auguste Perret Award. Cinemas screen the science fiction film Voyage to the End of the Universe, with music by Zdeněk Liška. Karel Gott wins the Golden Nightingale award for the first time.

1964 A new car, the Škoda 1000 MB, goes on sale. The film Lemonade Joe wins an award in San Sebastian.

1965 The Podolí swimming pool complex is opened in Prague. Radek Pilař makes his celebrated animated introduction for the children’s early evening cartoon slot. Kádár and Klos make The Shop on Main Street, for which they win an Oscar. Television broadcasts a new children’s programme: Come On, Let’s Play. František Maria Černý designs concrete steeples for the Emmaus Monastery in Prague.

1966 Films by Ivan Passer, Miloš Forman, Jan Němec, Věra Chytilová, Jiří Menzel, František Vláčil, Jan Roháč, Václav Vorlíček – the Czech New Wave is born. Věra Čáslavská is the world gymnastics champion.

1967 The Laterna magika is a sensation at the Montreal Expo. Television begins broadcasting advertisements with Mr Egg.

1968 The Supreme Court annuls rulings from the political trials of the nineteen-fifties. Jiří Menzel’s Closely Observed Trains wins an Oscar. Soviet tanks roll into Prague.

1969 In protest against the political situation in this country, Jan Palach sets himself on fire on Wenceslas Square, followed a month later by Jan Zajíc.