Friends from Moscow

A opět přišel máj (1971)/ Here Comes May Again (1971)


  • Describe how the Soviet delegation arriving on the plane was welcomed, and what meaning you think these rituals might have had.
  • Focus on the various people in the clip ­– politicians, photographers, kids from the “Pioneer” organisation, onlookers. What reason could each of them have had for participating in this official welcome? How might each of them have felt at that moment?
  • How might they remember this experience today?


This short documentary captures the arrival of the delegation of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union to Prague in 1971.

The accompanying text gives no important message; we can focus on the composition of the picture and the deeper symbolism of the whole documentary.

The visit from the Soviet Union was meant to seal and confirm the adherence of Czechoslovakia to the Eastern bloc after the attempt to reform communism in 1968 (Prague Spring). Although the Soviet Union was very unpopular among the Czech public after the occupation (which ended the push for reform in Czechoslovakia) (Hot debate), the official documentary does not even mention the recent past. On the contrary, the clip emphasises friendship and joy through political rituals that are repeated in all state visits between Eastern bloc politicians – kisses, hugs, flowers from pioneers, and waving crowds.

The regime that was set up after the Soviet occupation of Czechoslovakia is called normalisation. Ideologically, it was presented as a period of calm and a return to the correct path after a period of experimentation. In retrospect, it is typified by an emptiness of thought, which is evident in a pattern of repetition and commentary that completely ignores the current context. As a consequence, normalisation meant that most of the population was not interested in the contemporary ideology and observed it only superficially. We can only imagine what its other participants thought about the whole ritual – pioneers, photographers, or waving crowds – and why and how they participated in it. That is why, as the introductory video for our project, we chose to show political leaders and other basically anonymous people who represent all of society, meeting on the tarmac of the airport.