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The Forgotten: Smash-Up

The problem of what films to make in the communist block exercised the minds of the best filmmakers. Milos Forman struggled with the issue of how to create drama in a country (Czechoslovakia) which could not admit to any social problems. At one point he confesses to writing a scenario in which a worker volunteers for so many extracurricular activities he risks meltdown: the conflict between mere commendable social participation and exceptional commitment to going above and beyond the call of duty seemed to be the only avenue of exploration left to the dramatist. Even that story would probably have been censored; at any rate, it was never made.

Nikola Tanhofer, a cinematographer who began alternating camerawork with directing jobs, chose a different approach in Yugoslavia in 1958. The title H-8... refers to the first two figures in an incomplete license plate number, belonging to an unidentified driver whose recklessness has caused a fatal motorway crash.

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