In 1968, over 150,000 Red Army troops entered Czechoslovakia to reverse the political liberalization known as the Prague Spring. Agnieszka Holland’s new movie Burning Bush, about the Soviet invasion and its aftermath, aired originally on HBO in Europe.
The work of Holland, a Pole educated in Prague, is familiar to American audiences. Her long list of directorial credits includes Europa, Europa (1990), The Secret Garden (1993), and Washington Square (1997), as well as episodes of television’s The Wire and Treme.
Her frame for depicting the events of 45 years ago is the libel suit against the Czechoslovak government that was launched by courageous relatives of the young dissident Jan Palach. The government sought to defame Palach, one of several East bloc activists to commit suicide by self-immolation to protest the Soviet domination of their countries.