It is little wonder that this film was withheld from release by the communist government of Czechoslovakia from 1969 to its release in 1990 at the Berlin Film Festival. What's amazing is that it was made at all and that, having been made, it survived to be shown.
The story concerns the irrepressible goodness of people imprisoned by the government in labor camps, as they struggle against all odds to retain their humanity. The story focuses on two small groups of prisoners: one of men, the other of women.
They have been imprisoned for such apparently minor crimes as attempting to find out what has happened to missing loved ones. The two groups manage to interact and some romance even springs up between them. From time to time, prisoners are spirited away in a mysterious black car, never to be seen again.
Reviewers were lavish in their praise of this film, which is funny, bitter, satirical, allegorical, and rich with imagery that is particularly meaningful to those who endured similar privations through living under repressive regimes.