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Closely Watched Trains - Criterion Collection
Closely Watched Trains - Criterion Collection
Actors: Vaclav Neckar, Josef Somr, Vlastimil Brodský, Vladimír Valenta, Alois Vachek
Director: Jiri Menzel
Genres: Indie & Art House, Comedy, Drama, Military & War
UR     2001     1hr 33min

A comedy-drama about a young trainmaster's struggle with his imminent manhood during WWII. His psychiatrist tells him to find an experienced woman to teach him the art of love. — Genre: Foreign Film - Other — Rating: UN — Rel...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Vaclav Neckar, Josef Somr, Vlastimil Brodský, Vladimír Valenta, Alois Vachek
Director: Jiri Menzel
Genres: Indie & Art House, Comedy, Drama, Military & War
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Comedy, Drama, Military & War
Studio: Criterion
Format: DVD - Black and White - Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 09/18/2001
Original Release Date: 01/01/1966
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/1966
Release Year: 2001
Run Time: 1hr 33min
Screens: Black and White
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 15
Edition: Criterion Collection
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Languages: Czech
Subtitles: English

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Movie Reviews

A Masterpiece
Gordon Skene | 09/30/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I remember seeing this film as a teenager when it first came out and have loved it ever since. I've also seen it about forty times and, like the wonderful book you read over and over, this film continues to be a revelation. It is darkly comic, wonderfully well drawn and has, to my mind probaby the single sexiest scene ever put on film (the famous "rubber stamp" sequence).The real tragedy of this film however, is the director Jiri Menzel, whose many films have never seen the light of day in this country. A victim of the Soviet crackdown on Czechoslovakia in 1968, Menzel's follow-up film, the absurd and outrageously funny "Larks On A String" was banned until only a few years ago when it was briefly shown in the U.S. and had an even briefer run on VHS (hint-hint: a DVD please??). Clearly, Menzel was/is a genius whose gift was stopped in its tracks by the ugly spectre of politics.Menzel, like his fellow film makers Milos Forman, and Ivan Passar has a unique and important voice. "Closely Watched Trains" is a masterpiece in its richness of character and observation on the human condition. There is not a single false moment, nor badly cast character in the entire film. It is a rewarding experience and one to savor over and over again. I don't know how many films can make that claim, but this is one film I will see for a very long time to come. I'm so glad the DVD has finally come out - I've worn out three VHS copies over the years."
R. Albin | Ann Arbor, Michigan United States | 07/17/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Based on an outstanding short novel by the Czech writer Bohumil Hrabal, Closely Watched Trains is probably the finest film of the Czech New Wave. The New Wave resulted from a period of experimentation that resulted from the liberalization of the Communist Party that produced the Prague Spring and was terminated by the Soviet invasion. The wit and humor with which Closely Watched Trains approaches Czech life during WWII was undoubtedly a major departure from the conventional party ideology. As commented by other reviewers, Closely Watched Trains is a witty sex comedy and ironic coming of age story. It is also a deeply ironic allegorical account of Czech history during WWII. Superbly filmed and acted."
(Ostre sledované vlaky)
Gordon Skene | 01/09/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)

"The misadventures of a fledgling male, confronting the adult world for the first time, become a dark comedy about lost innocence and transitory accomplishments. The young hero, Milos, assumes the responsibility of his first job as a stationmaster's assistant in a village outside Prague. He is a frightened faun of a youth, all eyes and knobby knees, settling into the routines of a railway employee's life, and seldom removing his cherished cap, even in bed. The comic balance between Milos's shyness in both love and business matters, and the satirical look at small-town ribaldry, hypocrisy, and isolationism is overshadowed by the presence of the Germans. (It is the 1940s.) Menzel's film is a second look, filled with wit and pathos, at a particular Czech Everyman, catching every nuance of Milos's bright, often painful revelations, and leaving the spectator stunned by the inevitability of an unexpected fate."
One of the best Black Comedies you will ever see
Lawrance M. Bernabo | The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota | 12/29/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This wonderful film from 1966 is one of the first black comedies, albiet with more pathos then you normally find in such fare. Director Jiri Mezel's film is set during the Second World War in a tiny Czech train when a young dispatcher (Vaclav Neckar) observes everything about life. Few black comedies cover so much, from the absurd to the erotic, with love and death thrown in, not to mention an ending that is still pretty shocking. "Closely Watched Trains" is an audacious film, especially for the time and place. Eastern Europe is not where you normally expect to find a jewel, but then the "Nazis" do not necessarily have to represent the Nazis, right? Again, this is one of the best black comedies you are going to come across in any language."