Milos Forman

Forman, Milos (1932- ), Czechoslovakian motion-picture director, best known for his ironic comedies and literary adaptations. Born in Čáslav, Forman was orphaned at the age of ten, after both of his parents were killed in Nazi concentration camps (see Concentration Camp: Nazi Camps). He studied at the University of Prague and at FAMU, Prague's prestigious film school. Forman was an influential director in Czechoslovakia during the 1960s, playing a significant role in developing the Czech New Wave, a cinema movement characterized by psychological character studies and by social or political themes. Following the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968 (see Czechoslovakia: The Prague Spring), Forman immigrated to the United States, where he directed several internationally acclaimed films.

Forman began his film career as a screenwriter, contributing the script for Dědeček automobil (Old Man Automobile, 1956), by Czech director Alfréd Radok. Forman apprenticed with Radok's Laterna Magika (Magic Lantern), a mixed-media performance troupe, until he directed his first film, Konkurs (variously translated as Talent Competition, Competition, and Audition, 1963), released in Czech. He came to international prominence with Cerny Petr (Black Peter, 1964), a lighthearted comedy that won the top prize at the Locarno Film Festival in Switzerland. He had further critical and commercial success with his subsequent Czech films, Lasky jedne plavovlasky (Loves of a Blonde, 1965) and Hori, ma panenko (The Firemen's Ball, 1968).

Forman's first American film was Taking Off (1971), a comedy about the generation gap between a runaway girl and her parents. His breakthrough film with American audiences was One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975), an adaptation of the harrowing novel about an insane asylum by American writer Ken Kesey. The film won all five of the top Academy Awards, including Oscars for best director and best picture. Forman followed this triumph with a successful film version of Hair (1979), a stage musical about American counterculture youth during the 1960s. Forman's later films include the literary adaptations Ragtime (1981), based on the novel by American writer E. L. Doctorow, and Valmont (1989), a film version of the novel Les liaisons dangereuses (1782; translated as Dangerous Connections, 1784) by French writer Pierre Choderlos de Laclos. Forman also won Academy Awards for best director and best picture for his film Amadeus (1984), based on the play by British dramatist Peter Shaffer about the life of Austrian composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

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