Milos Forman Poster


Jump to: Overview (4)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Family (3)  | Trade Mark (2)  | Trivia (29)  | Personal Quotes (35)

Overview (4)

Born in Cáslav, Czechoslovakia [now Czech Republic]
Died in Danbury, Connecticut, USA  (undisclosed)
Birth NameJan Tomas Forman
Height 5' 10" (1.78 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Milos Forman was born Jan Tomas Forman in Caslav, Czechoslovakia, to Anna (Svabova), who ran a summer hotel, and Rudolf Forman, a professor. During World War II, his parents were taken away by the Nazis, after being accused of participating in the underground resistance. His father died in Buchenwald and his mother died in Auschwitz, and Milos became an orphan very early on. He studied screen-writing at the Prague Film Academy (F.A.M.U.). In his Czechoslovakian films, Black Peter (1964), A Blonde in Love (1965), and The Firemen's Ball (1967), he created his own style of comedy. During the invasion of his country by the troops of the Warsaw pact in the summer of 1968 to stop the Prague spring, he left Europe for the United States. In spite of difficulties, he filmed Taking Off (1971) there and achieved his fame later with One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975) adapted from the novel of Ken Kesey, which won five Oscars including one for direction. Other important films of Milos Forman were the musical Hair (1979) and his biography of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Amadeus (1984), which won eight Oscars.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Volker Boehm

Family (3)

Spouse Martina Forman (27 November 1999 - 13 April 2018)  (his death)  (2 children)
Vera Kresadlová (1964 - 1999)  (divorced)  (2 children)
Jana Brejchová (1958 - 1962)  (divorced)
Children Forman, Andrew
Forman, James
Matej Forman
Petr Forman
Relatives Pavel Forman (sibling)

Trade Mark (2)

Bio-pics about unlovable celebrities (Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Larry Flynt, Andy Kaufman)
Would frequently cast Vincent Schiavelli

Trivia (29)

His sons, Andrew and James, were named after Andy Kaufman and Jim Carrey. Carrey portrays Kaufman in Forman's film Man on the Moon (1999).
Became US citizen in 1975.
Awarded fourth annual John Huston Award for Artists Rights by the Artists Rights Foundation. [1997]
Father, with Vera Kresadlová, of twin brothers Matej Forman & Petr Forman.
First name is pronounced "Mee-losh." Last name is pronounced like "Forre-mahn", with rolling "r"'s.
Biography in: John Wakeman, editor. "World Film Directors, Volume Two, 1945-1985." Pages 349-356. New York: The H.W. Wilson Company, 1988.
Brother of Pavel Forman.
He directed 8 different actors in Oscar-nominated performances: Jack Nicholson, Louise Fletcher, Brad Dourif,Howard E. Rollins Jr., Elizabeth McGovern, F. Murray Abraham, Tom Hulce and Woody Harrelson. Nicholson, Fletcher and Abraham won Oscars for their performances.
Is currently director of Columbia University's film division. He takes sabbatical years for filmmaking.
President of the 'Official Competition' jury at the 38th Cannes International Film Festival in 1985.
Member of the 'Official Competition' jury at the 25th Cannes International Film Festival in 1972.
His top ten films of all time are: City Lights (1931), Citizen Kane (1941), Children of Paradise (1945), Miracle in Milan (1951), Giant (1956), The Godfather (1972), Amarcord (1973), American Graffiti (1973), The Deer Hunter (1978) and Raging Bull (1980). [Source: "Sight and Sound"].
He was hand-picked by Michael Crichton to direct Disclosure (1994) but subsequently left the project due to creative differences with Crichton.
He was due to have directed a film called Hell Camp in the early 1990s, from an original screenplay he had written with Adam Davidson. The film, to have been shot in New York and Tokyo, was to have starred Dylan Walsh and centred on two young Americans travelling to Japan and learning Japanese discipline and fighting spirit at a military-style camp. One falls in love with a Japanese girl while the other becomes a sumo wrestler. Shooting was to have started in November 1991 for a Christmas 1992 release but the film was cancelled when the Sumo Association of Japan objected to the script's allegedly unflattering portrayal of the sport. TriStar, the film's backers, offered to support Forman if he wanted to change the script or try to make the film without the cooperation of the Sumo Association but the director felt that the association's cooperation was needed for the film's authenticity in the provision of stadiums and professional sumo wrestlers.
At the time of his death, he was one of only three living directors who have directed two films that have won the Academy Award for best picture. The others are Francis Ford Coppola and Clint Eastwood.
Was reportedly one of the first directors who considered turning the J.R.R. Tolkien novel, "The Lord of the Rings", into a live action feature.
Is one of 10 directors to win the Golden Globe, Director's Guild, BAFTA, and Oscar for the same movie, winning for One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975). The other directors to have achieved this are Mike Nichols for The Graduate (1967), Richard Attenborough for Gandhi (1982), Oliver Stone for Platoon (1986), Steven Spielberg for Schindler's List (1993), Ang Lee for Brokeback Mountain (2005) and Danny Boyle for Slumdog Millionaire (2008), Alfonso Cuarón for Gravity (2013) and Roma (2018), Alejandro G. Iñárritu for The Revenant (2015), and Guillermo del Toro for The Shape of Water (2017).
He was the first choice of screenwriter Joe Eszterhas and original producer Irwin Winkler to direct Basic Instinct (1992). Forman liked the script and was interested in directing the film but Carolco, who had paid a record $3m for the script, made a deal with Paul Verhoeven to direct.
Ex-brother-in-law of Hana Brejchová.
Studied direction at the Prague Film Academy (FAMU) together with his friend Giorgos Skalenakis.
Will receive the Directors Guild of America's Lifetime Achievement Award for Distinguished Achievement in Motion Picture Direction [November 28, 2012].
In Milan Kundera's short story "La pomme d'or de l'éternel désir" (in the collection "Risibles amours"), Martin, the narrator's womanizing friend, introduces himself as Milos Forman to a naive country girl, that he tries to pick up, and claims that the narrator is Forman's regular cinematographer Miroslav Ondrícek [Folio edition, 1987, pg. 75].
He was raised by parents Anna (Svabova), who ran a summer hotel, and Rudolf Forman, a professor. They were Protestants, but were arrested by the Nazis during World War II after being accused of participating in the underground anti-Nazi resistance (his father died in Buchenwald and his mother died in Auschwitz). As an adult, Milos was told that his biological father was Otto Kohn, an architect of Jewish heritage (making Milos a biological half-brother of mathematician Joseph J. Kohn).
He directed two 'Best Picture' Academy Award winners: One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975) and Amadeus (1984).
Two of Forman's films are in the Criterion Collection: A Blonde in Love (1965) and The Firemen's Ball (1967).
Studied at FAMU film school in Prague, then Czechoslovakia, now Czech Republic. Other graduates of FAMU include Jirí Menzel, Agnieszka Holland, Emir Kusturica, Grímur Hákonarson, Frank Beyer, Vera Chytilová and Milan Kundera.
President of the 'Official Competition' jury at the 7th Marrakech International Film Festival in 2007.
In 1995, it was announced that he would direct a remake of Dodsworth (1936) for Warner Bros. starring Harrison Ford from a script by Alfred Uhry. The project never came to fruition.
He has directed two films that have been selected for the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically or aesthetically" significant: One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975) and Amadeus (1984).

Personal Quotes (35)

I know this sounds so little, and not serious enough, but I believe that I have to have fun. We all have to have fun - me, the actors, the cameraman, everybody should feel as if we are making a home movie, because that is the only way to open the film to a certain kind of lightness. If everybody involved feels the seriousness, the heavy weight of money being stamped on movies, it somehow influences the result in a way which is anesthizing to life.
The theatre is different from the movies, which is very right for the theatre, because you know when the curtain goes up, that nothing is real, that everything is stylized. The tree is not a real tree, it's stylized. The language is stylized and must be stylized because you don't have editing. You have to write lines so that you can communicate to the audience everything so they will understand. It's stylized for that purpose. But film is very different because you see that everything is real. The trees are real, the buildings are real, the sky is real, so people better be real too and not stylized like on the stage.
Who doesn't have sympathy for the underdog? Of course, I do. We create institutions, governments and schools to help us live, but every institution has a tendency, after a while, to behave not as if they should be serving you, but that you should be serving them. That's when the individual gets in conflict, because we are paying these institutions with our taxes, we are paying them to serve us and help us live, and not to tell us how to live and dominate us. I wouldn't say it's the underdog but it's always the conflict within the individual and the institutions. Instead of underdogs, let's talk about dogs. If you corner a dog, he's ready to bite you. That's the reality. Otherwise he's a loveable, wonderful creature. If you corner him, he can behave abominably. And so does a human being. When an individual is cornered by society or an institution, well, he can behave abominably and I can't really hide it or glorify it. Neither. It's just a fact of life.
Director is little bit of everything, little bit of the writer, little bit of an actor, little bit of an editor, little bit of a costume designer. Good director is the director who chooses for this profession people who are better than he is. Yes, I can write, but I have to have a writer who is a better writer than I am, I have to have actors who are better actors than I am, I have to have sound engineers who are better sound engineer than I am, you know. It's a strange profession, ....visually it's your vision.
Some scenes have to be done exactly as they are written in the scripts because otherwise the pace would suffer, like that. But then there are scenes which allow a space for improvisation and then I like to encourage improvisation, but you have to always have exact script because 90% of improvisation is usually very boring, unusable. But the 10% or even less, even if you have 1%, you can get such a gem of unrepeatable moments of films that it's worth it to try to improvise. But if improvisation doesn't work you have to have a solid script to go back to.
[on Valmont (1989)] We were in the middle of our script already when they announced their version, based on the play. Of course we immediately learned they were rushing into it very fast. With the concept I had, we all knew I couldn't be faster. We couldn't beat them. So, I was expecting a call from the producers saying 'Sorry, Milos, we can't take the risk.' The call came. They asked me, 'Does it really bother you that another film is going to be made?' I said of course not. And I felt like, god, Hollywood is still crazy. That's good.
[on his twin sons] Originally we were going to name the baby Andy, because I was doing a film about Andy Kaufman. Then we learned we were having twins, and we said, OK, it will be Andy and Tony, after Andy's famous character, Tony Clifton. But then my son's wife gave birth to a daughter, and they named her Toni. I couldn't have a Tony, so we chose Jim. When you choose names for your children, you want to name them after somebody you like very much, so the name will always ring beautifully in your ears. And that was how I felt about Jim Carrey.
Give me $100,000 and I will make the film for $100,000. Give me $10m and I will make the film for $10m. Give me $100m and I will spend it.
It's funny to realize, but in my relatively short life I have lived through six or seven different social and cultural systems. First the Democratic Republic of Czechoslovakia, then the limited democracy before World War II, then the Nazi regime. After the Nazi regime there was a kind of democracy again for three years, then came the Stalinist regime, then the reformed Communist regime, and now I am living in a free country.
[on Jack Nicholson] The moment he begins to work, he becomes a servant: he knows the story, he knows the film, he arrives each day prepared to perfection, he is interested in an excellent ambiance and he helps to create it.
When the Nazis and Communists first came to Czechoslovakia, they declared war on pornographers and perverts. Everyone applauded: who wants perverts running through the streets? But then, suddenly, Jesus Christ was a pervert, Shakespeare was a pervert, Hemingway was a pervert. It always starts with pornographers to open the door a little, but then the door is opened wide for all kinds of persecution.
It all begins in the script. If what's happening is interesting, it doesn't matter where you shoot from, people will be interested to watch. If you write something boring, you can film from mosquitoes' underpants and it will still be boring.
When I was asked to direct One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975), my friends warned me not to go anywhere near it. The story is so American, they argued, that I, an immigrant fresh off the boat, could not do it justice. They were surprised when I explained why I wanted to make the film. To me it was not just literature but real life, the life I lived in Czechoslovakia from my birth in 1932 until 1968. The Communist Party was my Nurse Ratched, telling me what I could and could not do; what I was or was not allowed to say; where I was and was not allowed to go; even who I was and was not.
I hear the word "socialist" being tossed around by the likes of Rick Perry, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh and others. President Barack Obama, they warn, is a socialist. The critics cry, "Obamacare is socialism!" They falsely equate Western European-style socialism, and its government provision of social insurance and health care, with Marxist-Leninist totalitarianism. It offends me, and cheapens the experience of millions who lived, and continue to live, under brutal forms of socialism.
My sister-in-law's father, Jan Kunasek, lived in Czechoslovakia all his life. He was a middle-class man who ran a tiny inn in a tiny village. One winter night in 1972, during a blizzard, a man, soaked to the bone, awakened him at 2 in the morning. The man looked destitute and, while asking for shelter, couldn't stop cursing the Communists. Taking pity, the elderly Mr. Kunasek put him up for the night. A couple of hours later, Mr. Kunasek was awakened again, this time by three plainclothes policemen. He was arrested, accused of sheltering a terrorist and sentenced to several years of hard labor in uranium mines. The state seized his property. When he was finally released, ill and penniless, he died within a few weeks. Years later we learned that the night visitor had been working for the police. According to the Communists, Mr. Kunasek was a class enemy and deserved to be punished.
When I was moonlighting on Czech TV as a moderator, introducing movies, in the early '50s. It was live, so there was no chance to bleep politically undesirable words. Every utterance, even in supposedly spontaneous interviews, had to be scripted, approved by the censors, learned by heart and repeated verbatim on the air. When I was preparing to interview one Comrade Homola, a powerful Communist, I sent him questions, but didn't receive his answers. My boss, also a powerful party member, told me: "He is lazy! Write his answers for him, and remind him to learn them by heart." So I did. Comrade Homola arrived at the last moment. When the red light went on and I asked the first question, he reached into his pocket, took out my answers and started to read them, awkwardly and obediently - including my inadvertent grammatical mistakes. And thus, to my consternation, went the whole interview. In the control booth, my boss hit the roof. I was fired the next day for ridiculing a representative of the state.
[on directing "The Little Black Book" on Broadway] I enjoyed our arguments about the text with Delphine Seyrig and Richard Benjamin during rehearsals. I enjoyed the whole thing, but then I had to admit that I wasn't a theatrical director. There are just a few directors - and Ingmar Bergman being one of the best - who are able to direct films as well as stage performances - and they are able to do it well. I'm not one of them. What I miss is the abstract imagination, which theatre definitely requires. I always have a feeling in the end that I'm holding a camera in my hand and that I'm being forced to look at the same shot for two hours and I have to choke back the urge to cry: 'Stop!'"
[on Amadeus (1984)] I was surprised at the size of the success. In the '80s, with MTV on the scene, we are having a three-hour film about classical music, with long names and wigs and costumes. Don't forget that no major studio wanted to finance the film, for those reasons. I knew we didn't have a film we should be ashamed of, but the response of the audience was overwhelming. It surprised me.
[from his Oscar acceptance speech for One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975)] I thank the Academy for the company of the nominees they put me in - I'm very proud of that. When I want to think of what possible reasons I'm here now, I can find two: the first is that this year the Academy members recognised the fact that last year I spent more time in a mental institution than the others. And the second might be that, well, that America is still a very beautiful, hospitable and open country.
[on Valmont (1989)] When I was in the film school in Prague, my professor of literature was a Francophile, and he was always suggesting that we read and study French literature. And he suggested 'Les Liaisons Dangereuses'. I was 18 or 19 years old. Oh my god, how much I loved that book. I wouldn't dare, of course, to say to anybody, but I thought it would be a wonderful, erotic movie. And then, many, many years later, I was asked to see 'Les Liaisons Dangereuses' on the stage, and to make the film with the Christopher Hampton adaptation. I went to see it, and I was sort of surprised how what I saw differs from my memory of the book. I thought my memory of the book was what was interesting, at least for me. So I said, "Yeah, I would like to make the film, but not based on the play. I would like to work with Mr Hampton, but I would like to base it on what I remember, what the book meant to me." They didn't like that idea. Then I discovered, to my surprise, that the play was very faithful to the book. My memory played these funny games on me, and in some arrogant way, I thought, "My memory's interesting. My memory's better." And I got so involved and excited about the making of that movie.
[accepting his Best Director Oscar for Amadeus (1984)] I'm very proud because this is an American movie on which a lot of Czechoslovakian artists and technicians collaborated - to get this kind of recognition from the members of the Academy for this kind of collaboration, I think it's very encouraging for more than artistic or box office reasons.
When we started to make our films, they were really Czech films about Czech society and Czech little people - and who cares about Czech little people? So it was satisfying to have people in other countries respond. [2004]
Because if you lived, as I did, several years under Nazi totalitarianism, and then 20 years in communist totalitarianism, you would certainly realize how precious freedom is, and how easy it is to lose your freedom.
[on Amadeus (1984)] It's a wonderful story, and I think there's a little bit of Mozart in all of us - and quite a bit of Salieri in all of us.
[on Hair (1979)] I saw the very first public preview on Broadway of Hair in 1967 for some sort of festival or something. I just loved every song. It's one of the three musicals in history in which every song is a gem. The others are West Side Story and Cats. For me, this is my opinion. Usually a musical has one or two great tunes, and the rest is just a film. This musical, every song was a gem. When I was offered by Paramount to come to America and make a movie - that was in 1968, during the Dubcek era in communist Czechoslovakia, which was much more relaxed - I said, "Yeah, I would like to make Hair." The rights to the stage play were so complicated and convoluted that nobody could untangle them. It was impossible. But after that, every few months, somebody called to ask if I was still interested in doing Hair. And I always panicked and ran quickly back to the record player to play the record again and find out if I was still crazy about the music and the songs. And I'd say, "Yes, yes I am." But then this was happening very often. I stopped going to the record player, and routinely I said "Yes." And one day, I routinely said "Yes," and they said, "Okay, let's start." And then I panicked. But I am very fond of that film. That was a film about the dreams of every young person in the totalitarian system: not to change the system, but just to be allowed to express yourself.
[on The Great Dictator (1940)] I was only 14 when the war ended, and Hitler was still some sort of monster. Suddenly you got a film which made people laugh and liberated you from this evil clown. It made me realise what a strong social and philosophical impact cinema can have.
[on Ragtime (1981)] When I showed the producer, Dino De Laurentiis, my cut, which was, I think, two hours and forty minutes long, he said, "Twenty minutes have to come out." And what he wanted me to cut were sequences about the radical Emma Goldman, which I didn't want to do because they were the only scenes where I hoped to get some belly laughs. I thought in this long drama it was important to give the audience some relief. Finally I said to Dino, "Let's show this to the author of the novel." I thought I was being clever. But I was stupid. E.L. Doctorow sided with Dino. I later learned that the day before the screening Dino had bought an option on another one of his books. [Laughs] So I have to forgive him.
[when asked about his favourite part of filmmaking] Editing is the most fun for me. In preproduction you're constantly worried that you're making the right decisions, and during shooting you're on a timetable - you have to go like clockwork. When you're editing, you have time to examine all the variations, and you can see the film finally come alive. I'm very much thinking about editing during the shooting. I must make sure that I'm giving myself more than one option in editing. So that this could cut very well with this one, but what about if it doesn't? So then I want to have another angle, or the second camera doing something I could use if it doesn't work. I am thinking about editing, but I never give myself just one possibility for an edit.
[on Miracle in Milan (1951)] One of the greatest films I ever saw; it's still in my top 10. It was the first film I saw when the war was over. I was 19, and shocked by how moved I was by it. I saw it maybe 20 times, sometimes staying for two or three showings. Even today, I can remember faces of extras in that movie better than I can remember the stars of hundreds of films I've seen since then. It's so real, so true, so alive, and yet it's a fairy tale. It's a fairy tale for adults with a very strong social undercurrent. A film that put on screen absolutely credible, moving human beings in a way that is very touching and at the same time very funny. It was particularly interesting to those of us in the East, partly because it used this method of what became known later as cinema-verité. But it was also a very well-structured story. Everything was linked to an overall idea - it was not just rambling shots of life on the streets. There was a strong element of sarcasm. There's this wonderful scene where Toto is surrounded by the people in the shanty town who learn that he has the power to fulfil their wishes. And then he finds that they're as greedy as the haves. What do they ask for? Fur coats, love potions, new hats. As a kid, for me what was most important was how emotionally a movie could touch me. It made me start thinking, I wish I could have this power to make an audience feel so emotionally involved in a movie. I went to see it again and again, was sitting there knowing every shot to come, and yet that was what made me feel good. I saw many other films after and realized how unique De Sica's film is. With this absolutely realistic style, you can create such a powerful fairytale.
[on the 18th century settings of Amadeus (1984), Valmont (1989) and Goya's Ghosts (2006)] I believe it's a coincidence, but what do I know? It's usually a story which grabs you, it doesn't matter when, what time and where it is happening. It's the characters and some story, which excites you intellectually and emotionally.
Casting is enormously important because that's finally who the audience sees. My ideas or the writer's ideas mean nothing if what I see on the screen I don't believe.
Each time you make a connection between a scene and a moment from your own life, you're likely to make it something that's more credible and resonates more richly. All my films abound in covert allusions and reinterpretations of obscure events in my own life.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975) is a Czech movie - for you it's a fiction, for me I lived it. The Communist Party was my Nurse Ratched! So that's why I was so thrilled to have a chance to make the movie.
[on Valmont (1989)] I think it's somehow more touching if what these people are doing to each other is done out of a certain kind of youthful ignorance than a real mature adult speculation. The other way it's more evil. This way it's more touching. I'm not saying that the other approach is wrong. But I myself prefer the more touching effect.
[on Valmont (1989)] When Jean-Claude [Jean-Claude Carrière] and I sat down, we decided to try to construct the story as it happened before the letters were written. Because when you write a letter you are already editing the facts. You are already trying to give your own interpretation of what happened. You try to impress somebody. You boast. And for us it was a wonderful game trying to figure out what really happened. We would take a letter and say, 'Would this situation be described like this in the letter? Was this what happened?' And in the middle of working on the script, Jean-Claude looked at me and said, 'Do you realize that so far, no one scene in the script exists in the book?' And when we finished, we realized that this is true through the whole script. And yet, we feel we are very, very faithful to the spirit of the book.

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