Michael, I was referring to the reviews posted above, not to the essays that are part of the box set, those are absolutely fantastic. Daniel Bird's contribution that comprise the booklet for the "Cruise" is brilliant, informative and may be a real help for those who feel lost about some of the gags that are rooted in Polish language per se. The only drawback is the layout. Shouldn't even mention that I guess since the words are these good and helpful.
Ah, gotcha - I was a bit surprised to read that!
And as a general principle you're entirely right that Western critics do tend to try to shoehorn Communism into pretty much everything they write about films from central/eastern Europe made between 1949 and 1989, even if it's not a particularly good fit or even a fit at all. I'm acutely conscious of this right now as I prepare The Firemen's Ball
for Arrow's BD release, because of course that film was famously "banned forever" because the authorities were convinced that it was specifically a satirical attack on them
, as opposed to a knockabout farce about things going wrong which could have any number of allegorical interpretations - but which also can be read entirely literally, and indeed it was inspired by real events surrounding an actual firemen's ball, with many of the firemen ending up in the film. Miloš Forman says that he and his co-writers simply thought that it was a good subject for a comedy, and there's really no serious reason to disagree with him.
That said, with all three of the films in this particular box set, I don't think you can wholly sideline the era in which they were made. But note that I only said "partially" in the case of The Cruise
- obviously it's perfectly possible to enjoy it on other levels.