Revolution in the Regions

Něžná revoluce (r. Jiří Střecha – Petr Slavík, 1989)/ Velvet Revolution (dir. Jiří Střecha – Petr Slavík, 1989)


  • Why do you think that the students went to a factory in the fall of 1989?
  • What kinds of opinions and reactions did they meet there?
  • What do you think this situation might say about the political changes in the Eastern bloc in 1989?


After the violent dispersal of the student demonstration on 17 November 1989, a smear campaign was launched in the official media, defaming the demonstration’s organisers and calling for order (see 1989 – Ideology).

The student movement had already been activated – a student strike had been declared, joined by actors from Prague theatres, and protest rallies continued. But these activities remained mostly limited to the capital. In the clip, we see one of the ways in which people in the regions were informed about what was going on. Organized groups travelled to other cities and regions to report to employees of large companies about the course of the demonstrations and the situation in Prague and especially to drum up support for a general strike planned for 27 November.

A group of students and actors arrived in the Ležáky mine in northern Bohemia. The communist regime praised miners as a symbol of the working class and miners were significantly better remunerated than other professions. Also, the last 15 seconds of our clip would make it seem that the miners were loyal to the communist regime. But even in this region, people demonstrated against the regime in 1989, primarily due to the catastrophic ecological situation caused by the very outmoded technique of mining brown coal, which was extracted at the expense of people’s health and the landscape.

In addition to their cultural distance from Prague artists, the miners’ unwillingness to talk on camera may have also been due to fear of where the situation was headed (What we don’t talk about). The clip presents the diversity of attitudes in Czechoslovak society towards the so-called Velvet Revolution and thus complicates the traditional narrative of discontent of the “people” with the government of the Communist Party, as thematised in the clips 1989 – Ideology and 1989 -Oppression.