Ingenious Czech-American Jan Tomas Forman (his formal name) was born in Caslavi on Febuary 18th, 1932.Both of his parents (Jewish father and protestant mother) died in Auschwitz concentration camp when he was just a little boy. What was the reason? His father belonged to the Czech Resistance group and his mother was dealing with an illegal grocery trade. The rest of his childhood/adulthood spent Forman living with his distant relatives as well as at the dorms of Podebrady’s public school. There he also met young Vaclav Havel (1st president of the Czech Republic) and Masin brothers ( who later started an armed anti-Communist resistance). After finishing high school he tried to get into the the University of Acting (DAMU) in Prague but without success. His second choice was the University of Film (FAMU), also located in Prague, and this time was Forman accepted. He graduated in 1968. His first major movie became the black-humored comedy “Cerny Petr” (Black Peter; 1963), which was followed by another debut “Loves of a Blond” (Lasky jedne plavovlasky; 1965). In 1967 he finished the “Fireman’s ball” (Hori, ma panenko; 1967), which was quickly forbidden by the government because it was “making fun of the common man”. When the Soviet tanks rumbled into Prague in 1968 Milos was in Paris working on his first American movie “Taking off”. The Czech studio for which he worked fired him, claiming that he had left the country illegally. Those circumstances led him to leave Europe and come to America where people already loved him for his unique film-making skills. Compared to the recently deceased Jan Benes (see my recent post on him), Forman’s first job in the United States was quite a breeze: he accepted a position as a professor of film at the Columbia University.
The first movie that made him famous in the New World was adaptation of Ken Kesey’s novel “One flew over the Cuckoo’s nest” (1974) which won him five Oscars. Few years later Forman created “Amadeus”, another piece of art, which won him eight Oscars!