Closely Watched Trains

1966 [CZECH]

Comedy / Drama / Romance

0
IMDb Rating 7.7 10 12068

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Synopsis


Uploaded By: FREEMAN
August 28, 2021 at 01:17 PM

Director

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720p.BLU
852.99 MB
1280*932
cze 2.0
NR
23.976 fps
1 hr 32 min
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Movie Reviews

Reviewed by DeeNine-2 10 / 10

Oh, those randy Czechs!

The "Closely Watched Trains" are those that are carrying supplies to the German army in and through occupied Czechoslovakia during World War II. That is why they are closely watched--so that they run on time. But they are also closely watched by the people of Czechoslovakia, especially dispatcher Hubicka (Josef Somr) and his trainee Milos Hrma (Vaclav Neckar) for another reason, which will become apparent as the movie ends.

Not that Milos and Hubicka are especially diligent workers. On the contrary. What Hubicka is especially adept at is seduction of females while Milos is distracted by his worries about becoming a man. He has what must be seen as a problem demanding comic relief (if you will). He has trouble pleasing his girl friend because of premature ejaculation. He is so consumed by this embarrassing failure that he seeks quietus in the warm bath of a bordello. Meanwhile Hubicka is able to please the pretty young telegraphist Virginia Svata (Jitka Zelenohorska) by playing a kind of strip poker with her and rubber stamping her pretty legs and butt much to her delight and to the consternation of her mother when she finds out. The German Councilor Zednicek (Vlastimil Brodsky) who tolerates no hanky-panky when it comes to keeping the trains moving conducts an investigation and comes to the conclusion that Hubicka is guilty of misuse and abuse of the great German language because he stamped German words onto Virginia's body! This is the tone of the film, wryly ironic, irreverent and mildly comedic, employing in a sense a kind of off-center "theater of the absurd" treatment. Director Jiri Menzel, who appears briefly in the film as Dr. Brabec who diagnoses Milos's "affliction," spun this off from a novel by Bohumil Hrabal, but it could easily have come from a novel by Jaroslav Hasek, who wrote the celebrated Czech classic, "The Good Soldier Svejk," so alike in treatment and tone are they, and so very characteristic of the Czech national mind-set vis-a-vis all the horrors of the European wars. Menzel concentrates on the petty affairs of day-to-day peasant life, sex, the raising of pigeons and geese, the boredom of bureaucratic jobs as he works toward the culminating scene in which the heroics seem almost light-hearted and to come about more from happenstance than from careful planning.

Some of the scenes in the movie are absolutely unique in the world of cinema and suggest a kind of cinematic genius. The creepy goose-stuffing (for foie gras pate) scene in which Milos seeks help with his "problem" from an older woman is riotous--or would be riotous if we were not so amazed as what she is doing while talking to him and what it LOOKS like she might be doing! The scene in which Stationmaster Lanska is torn between the prospect of seducing a voluptuous woman and the chance that he might miss supper reminded me of a little boy at play with his mother calling him home for dinner. The final scene in which it looks like Menzel may have employed a wind machine is just so perfectly presented, combining as it does the stark realism of the war and a delicious (but soon to be mixed) personal triumph of the resistance.

This is one of the classic films of all time. But prepare to put aside ordinary viewing habits and to concentrate with an alert mind. The subtleties of Menzel's little masterpiece will be obscured by inattention, preconceptions and faulty expectations. (Or at least that is what they'll tell you at film school.) See this Oscar winner (Best Foreign Film, 1967) for Jiri Menzel who survived oppression and censorship by the Soviets and is still making movies.

(Note: Over 500 of my movie reviews are now available in my book "Cut to the Chaise Lounge or I Can't Believe I Swallowed the Remote!" Get it at Amazon!)

Reviewed by osloj 10 / 10

Train Station at the End

This film adds a quirky resonance to the history of Neo-Freudian interpretation of human sexual psychology in film that rivals Bertolucci's "The Conformist". Gorgeously filmed in black and white, each frame by frame echoes of a past when life was still mired in concealment and innocence. The story centers around a train station in a Czech, German occupied small town and an apprentice train watcher, Milos Hrma, who is confused about his place in the world. He is a young man and is approaching an instance in his life when sexuality is flourishing all around him and yet he can not comprehend it. Scattered throughout the film are leitmotifs that represent sex: the train blowing steam, a horse with a woman riding it, a skinless rabbit being fondled by a woman cook, etc. He is under the tutelage of a train dispatcher who seems a zealot when it comes to seducing women. Although he notices that the train dispatcher is a sex fiend, he does little to elicit help from him. The general thought of the males is that a young man should be bestowed with the foreknowledge and insight at birth. Thus, his inability to perform when his girlfriend Masa is in bed during a bombing causes him great existential crisis and leads to his attempted suicide. In fact, the war was subliminally to blame for his impotence. This isn't a political film but uses subtle innuendos to trace the history of a young man into adulthood. Scattered throughout the film are affable characters such as a pigeon loving, crap covered Train master, a noble, aristocratic woman, a benign, slightly insane, photographer uncle of Masa, and a Nazi ideologue who refuses to believe that the Reich is in ruins. The sexual metaphors are spread in gusty humorous episodes such as when the train dispatcher 'stamps' a girl's buttocks in a moment of ecstasy. In the finale, the boy is finally cured of his 'impotence' by a big bang, I won't give it away, you'll have to see this delightful film.

Reviewed by Ham_and_Egger 9 / 10

"Do you know what Czechs are? Laughing animals."

It's amazing just how many visual sex metaphors director Jirí Menzel managed to cram into 92 minutes, without ever becoming ridiculous or losing the plot. It makes Hitchcock's train going into the tunnel shot from 'North By Northwest' look like the work of a rank amateur.

Ostensibly 'Closely Watched Trains' is the story of Trainee Milos Hrma (Václav Neckár) starting his job at the local train station during the Nazi occupation of what was then Czechoslovakia (only I guess it wasn't, because it was officially absorbed by the Reich). Throughout most of the film the war, complete with what the local Nazi functionary describes as "beautiful tactical withdrawals," is a long way off and Milos has more important matters to attend to. Specifically he's trying to lose his virginity and deal with another problem common to young men everywhere, one which the local doctor advises him to solve by thinking about football during critical moments.

Made in 1966, when some Czechs were clearly already looking ahead to 1968's Prague Spring, the film slyly uses the Nazis as a stand-in for the Soviets. As proof of this, and the Hollywood establishment's anti-Communist bent in the late 60s, 'Closely Watched Trains' won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film in 1968. It is, however, imminently deserving of the win on its own merits.

History lessons aside 'Closely Watched Trains' is beautifully shot, well acted, and absurdly hilarious, while still tasting of tragedy. Excellent.

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