A Delicate Friendship

Báječná léta pod psa (r. Petr Nikolaev, 1997)/ The Blissful Years of Lousy Living (dir. Petr Nikolaev, 1997)


  • Describe each of the characters and their relationships with each other.
  • What does “dissident” mean? If one of the characters is the “local dissident”- what kind of person is this?
  • What is the couple worried about in their encounter with the dissident? What do you think might be the reason for their confusion?
  • What do you think will happen to the couple and the local dissident next?


This clip from a popular feature film from the 1990s shows the main features of Normalisation society in Czechoslovakia in the 1970s and 80s. It highlights the contradiction between public and private morality. The couple run into their old acquaintance at the grocery store. Embarrassed and confused, they cannot decide whether to say hello to him, whether to “join” him, and even whether to visit him. Dissidents, especially those outside of big cities, were conspicuous and “suspicious”. There were very few dissidents in small towns. Considering the scarcity of cars and the restrictions on trade with the West, the Mercedes that the dissident drives is something truly rare. Such a luxurious car, at least from the perspective of the time, was something that only a small number of dissidents could afford thanks to royalties from their texts published in the West, which had to be exchanged in kind at specialised stores. The way in which the dissident and those around him are constantly being watched is shown by the State Security car tailing behind.