In Vienna, Austria-Hungary, 1889, a magician named Eisenheim (Edward Norton) is arrested by Chief Inspector Walter Uhl (Paul Giamatti) of the Vienna Police during a magic show involving necromancy. Later, Uhl explains the story of Eisenheim's life to Crown Prince Leopold (Rufus Sewell).
Jan Dítě has been released from a Czech prison just before the very end of his 15-year sentence and is settling in a town near the border between Czechoslovakia and Germany. He occupies his time with rebuilding a deserted house, and begins to recall his past, where he says that his main wish in life was to be a millionaire. Jan begins his career as a frankfurter vendor at a railroad station, and quickly learns the power of money and the influence it exerts over people.
The film begins in 1988 as the Soviet bloc is beginning to disintegrate. František Louka, a middle-aged Czech man dedicated to bachelorhood and the pursuit of women, is a concert cellist struggling to eke out a living by playing funerals at the Prague crematorium. He has lost his previous job at the Czech Philharmonic, having been half-accidentally blacklisted as "politically unreliable" by the authorities. A friend offers him a chance to earn a great deal of money through a sham marriage to a Russian woman to enable her to stay in Czechoslovakia. The woman then uses her new citizenship to emigrate to West Germany, where her boyfriend lives.
In 1950, during the Cold War, František (Franta) Sláma (Ondřej Vetchý) is incarcerated in Czechoslovakia, because of his prior service in the RAF. His recollections of the war begin in 1939, just days prior to the German invasion of Czechoslovakia. After the invasion, the Czechoslovakian military is disbanded and has to give up its aircraft. However, young pilots Franta and his friend Karel Vojtíšek (Kryštof Hádek), among others, refuse to submit to their occupiers and flee to the United Kingdom to join the RAF.
The film opens in 1939 Czechoslovakia. Horst, a Czech-German Nazi collaborator married to a German woman and co-worker of Josef, brings food to the invalid Josef and his wife Marie, who are Czechs. Josef hates the Nazis. When Josef finds David, who had escaped a concentration camp in occupied Poland after first being sent to the Theresienstadt concentration camp in northern Bohemia, Josef and Marie decide to hide him in their apartment. Horst makes an unannounced visit, bringing presents as usual. Marie is ambivalent about their secret: On one hand she never misses an opportunity to blame her husband for bringing in the Jew, but on the other she is merciful and sympathetic with the poor kid locked in the closet day and night. She suggests that Josef accepts Horst's job offer evicting Czech Jews from their homes, so as to get more protection and deflect possible suspicions. Josef accepts and is considered a collaborator by the neighbor Franta (who had tried to give David over to the Nazi authorities, when he first escaped from a concentration camp). Marie spends the days learning French from David and getting more and more tender toward him. Horst's visits become more frequent, and one afternoon, he attempts to rape Marie.
Jean Berlot (Liska) is a deeply troubled man who has been haunted by violent hallucinations since the death of his mother, who was committed to a mental institution when she passed on. While arranging his mother's funeral, Jean meets a fellow inmate who claims to be the Marquis de Sade (Triska), and lives as if he's in 18th-century France rather than the Czech Republic in 2005. Jean strikes up an alliance with De Sade, though they can hardly be called friends, and after becoming an unwilling accomplice to De Sade's debauchery, Jean joins him at a hospital run by Dr. Murlloppe (Dusek), who offers "Purgative Therapy" for people who aren't mad but could be in the future. Jean falls for a beautiful nurse named Charlota (Geislerova), who claims she's being held at the hospital against her will; in time, Jean hatches a plan to liberate her and the inmates, though he learns the truth is even more disturbing than he's been led to believe.
In an attic full of discarded junk, a pretty doll called Buttercup lives in an old trunk together with her friends, the marionette Sir Handsome, the lovable Teddy Bear, a Mechanical Mouse and the plasticine creature, Laurent. When Buttercup is snatched and taken off to the Land of Evil, her pals set out on a wondrous and daring adventure to rescue her from the all-powerful Head of State. Originally produced in the Czech language, the meticulously crafted animated feature is set in a magical world of toys and knick-knacks stored in the attic of a home in Prague. Following the symbolism of the Cold War era that impacted director Barta and the Czech Republic, the world of the attic is divided into the land of happy toys in the west and the land of evil in the east. The despotic Head of State rules over the evil empire of the east with a band of sinister minions, insects and rotted vegetables. When the lovely "Buttercup" is kidnapped and held prisoner by The Head, it is up to her friends - a teddy bear, a mechanical mouse and marionette puppet - to cross the international boundary and attempt their daring rescue. A teddy bear, a mechanical mouse, and a marionette join forces to save their kidnapped friend, Buttercup the doll, from the denizens of the Land of Evil.
Un rêve tchèque est le projet de fin d'études de deux étudiants en cinéma. Ils montent un canular mettant en scène un faux supermarché. Dans la république tchèque post-communiste, les habitants n'ont qu'une envie : consommer. La campagne de publicité fait venir plusieurs milliers de personnes devant une simple bâche représentant un supermarché et leur renvoyant la question sur leurs besoins de consommation.