- Actors: Václav Neckár, Josef Somr, Vlastimil Brodský, Vladimír Valenta, Alois Vachek
- Directors: Jirí Menzel
- Writers: Jirí Menzel, Bohumil Hrabal
- Producers: Carlo Ponti, Zdenek Oves
- Format: Black & White, DVD-Video, Subtitled, NTSC
- Language: Czech
- Subtitles: English
- Region: Region 1 (US and Canada This DVD will probably NOT be viewable in other countries. Read more about DVD formats.)
- Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
- Number of discs: 1
- MPAA Rating:
- Studio: Criterion
- Release Date: Sept. 18 2001
- Run Time: 93 minutes
- Average Customer Review: 6 customer reviews
- ASIN: B00005NFZB
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #47,028 in Movies & TV Shows (See Top 100 in Movies & TV Shows)
Closely Watched Trains
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At a village railway station in occupied Czechoslovakia, a bumbling dispatcher's apprentice longs to liberate himself from his virginity. Oblivious to the war and the resistance that surrounds him, this young man embarks on a journey of sexual awakening and self-discovery, encountering a universe of frustration, eroticism, and adventure within his sleepy backwater depot. Wry and tender, Academy Award®-winning Closely Watched Trains is a masterpiece of human observation and one of the best-loved films of the Czech New Wave.
Top customer reviews
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So what caught my eye this first time? I think simply the quiet texture of the film is what I liked about it most---it captures the rhythms of this sleepy little town in an authentic manner. I was amused by the character of Milos Hrma: as WWII rages on around him, he focuses on not doing too much (as a wannabe train dispatcher, he doesn't have to do all that much) as well as losing his virginity. In other people, that would be called ignorance; in Milos' case, it's pure innocence. And I suppose it must have been a rather daring feat at the time (1966) for Menzel to juxtapose wry human comedy with the undertone of WWII. In short, I liked its insights into human nature, I liked its slow pace---nothing truly significant happens for most of the picture, and yet we're intrigued anyway---I enjoyed its subtle eroticism, and I was rather fascinated by the main character, even if he himself wasn't necessarily the most fascinating character around.
Maybe I'm just stupid, but I wasn't sure why such a big deal was made by the disciplinary commission over the stamping incident involving Zdenka and train dispatcher Hubicka. I'm sure perhaps Menzel was making some kind of sly, subtle political statement was being made there, but I'm not quite sure what exactly. That is why, if I ever get the chance to see this film again, I would not mind it to perhaps catch the nuances I missed this first time. Still, for my first viewing, I was, on the whole, charmed by the movie and genuinely shocked by its deliberately dark ending. On that basis, I recommend CLOSELY WATCHED TRAINS---and i'm sure if I finally understand everything about the movie upon a second viewing, I might add a star to my current four-star rating.
Milos (Vaclav Neckar) is a virginal, naive, teenage apprentice railway depot platform guard in a village outside Prague. He is preoccupied with wishing for sex. He considers, and is even attracted to, joining the Resistance but that would require serious effort. So he spends his time doing as little as possible and flirting with the female conductor of a passing train.
This dark comedy is also a wonderful coming of age story in which the loss of innocence naturally parallels the greater losses in the increasingly mad world Milos inhabits.
Small town misadventures and petty rivalries are suddenly forced into a new perspective with the indomitable presence of the Germans and the surprising but inevitable hand of destiny. This is a comedy about Everyman enjoying his little realm of freedom and the System that eventually devoured it.
In some ways, this film has renewed meaning in our rapidly shrinking world where we question old beliefs and increasingly welcome the surrender of cherished Freedoms for the illusion of greater Security. Difficult issues that great films can clarify -- and obfuscate.
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