What We Don’t Talk about

Horká kaše (r. Radovan Urban, 1988)/ Hot Porridge (dir. Radovan Urban, 1988)


  • What is the conflict between the pupil and the teacher about?
  • How does the teacher handle the situation in the classroom?
  • Why do you think the boy can’t express his opinion (which is underpinned by the experience of his family) in school? What does it say about the school’s role in communist societies?


The clip accurately captures one of the typical characteristics of Normalisation society: the division between the public and private spaces. While many talked openly at home about political and social issues, in public it was necessary to use official and conformist language. This was not only the case in the world of adults, but also in that of children, who at school in particular were confronted with the official, propaganda-defined version of reality. In this clip, we see a lesson about the possible ways of travelling abroad. However, the official conditions of Czechoslovak citizens’ very restricted movement do not correspond to the life experience of one of the pupils. The boy has in this way broken the rules and spoken in public in a way that one is not supposed to. The teacher therefore marginalises his opinion and later instructs his father to watch his son more closely to make sure he follows the unwritten rules. Interestingly, this fictional film was made before 1989 and is therefore evidence of the fact that social criticism could appear openly in public even at the end of the 80s.