Director Miloš Forman has died

The Czech-born Oscar-winning director of Amadeus was 86 years old

Film director Miloš Forman died April 13 at the age of 86, following a brief illness at his home in Warren, Connecticut. His wife, Martina, informed the press and his manager, Dennis Aspland, confirmed the news.

“His departure was calm and he was surrounded by his family and closest friends,” Martina Forman said, according to press reports.

Miloš Forman’s official Twitter and Facebook accounts posted the dates of his birth and death and a black square symbolizing mourning.

Czech Culture Minister Ilja Šmíd reacted to the news on Facebook. “A great artist has gone, a man with a personal and original view of human life, whose peripety, absurdity, color and beauty have been captured in his work. I am extremely sorry about the death of Mr. Miloš Forman; I really like his work, and I have admired him as a man. I admired his humor, wisdom and invention. My sincere condolences to his family and loved ones,” the minister said.

Forman was born in the town of Čáslav on Feb. 18, 1932, in then-Czechoslovakia. During the 1960s he was on of the leading lights of the Czechoslovak New Wave of films in the 1960s, along with fellow directors Věra Chytilová, Ivan Passer, Jiří Menzel and Jan Němec.

Forman left Czechoslovakia after the Prague Spring in 1968 ended due to the Warsaw Pact invasion.

He became a naturalized citizen of the US in 1977.

Forman’s first English-language film, Taking Off, won the Grand Prix at the 1971 Cannes Film Festival, but was not a commercial success. It is a comedy about a runaway girl in the counter-culture era and her square parents.

His follow up film was One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, which won five Oscars including Best Director and Best Picture. It launched Forman into the top ranks of Hollywood directors.

He remains best-known for his 1984 adaptation of Peter Shaffer's play Amadeus, about the alleged rivalry between Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Antonio Salieri. The film was funded by Hollywood sources but shot mostly on location in Prague, marking the director’s return. Prague’s Estates Theatre is one of the major locations in the film.

Amadeus won eight Oscars, again including Best Director and Best Picture. An expanded director’s cut was released in 2002, and Forman returned to the Estates Theatre for the premiere. He said at the time that the film was originally shortened due to the distributor’s concerns in the 1980s over how long people would sit for a costume drama, but home video allowed more freedom to release longer works and many scenes that had been cut helped to improve the film.

He was also back in the Czech Republic in 1997 to receive the Crystal Globe award for outstanding artistic contribution to world cinema at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival.

His other English-language films include the 1979 musical Hair, the 1989 costume drama Valmont, back-to-back biographical films The People vs. Larry Flynt in 1996 and Man on the Moon in 1999. His final film was Goya’s Ghosts in 2006, loosely based on the life of the Spanish painter.

In the late 2000s, he wrote a script with former president Václav Havel and French writer Jean - Claude Carrier about the 1938 Munich Pact called Ghost of Munich, but the film was not made due to lack of financing.

A film called Ember, based on a Hungarian novel was canceled in the early 2000s when actor Sean Connery dropped out of the project.

Forman’s Czech career included the films Black Peter (Černý Petr), about a shop assistant, and Loves of a Blonde (Lásky jedné plavovlásky), about a woman who goes on a disastrous trip to see a boy she met at a concert. Both were released in 1964 and contained semi-autobiographical elements.

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