Closely Observed Trains

(U.S. title:
Closely Watched Trains)

Directed by
Jirí Menzel

93 mins

Tuesday April 12th  2005: 7:45pm

Academy Awards 1968
Best Foreign Film


Closely Watched Trains (Ostre sledované vlaky) holds up over the years as a fine example of comedy from the Czech New Wave, where political messages are subtly hidden under everyday situations and dry humor. Jirí Menzel's coming of age comedy is unlike most American comedies, derived from ridiculous contrived relationships and situations. Based on centuries of tradition, Czech humor gradually unfolds in off-hand manner.

"Closely Watched Trains concentrates nearly every moment of its 93 minutes on Milos, an apprentice train dispatcher looking toward a life of easy civil servitude in a German-occupied Czech town in 1942. He cares most passionately about losing his virginity, and engages one or another cohort in a plot to rid himself of the inexperience of boyhood. Trains is filled with wry moments of awkward seductions, white lies, and the gentle explorations of an innocent." Bright Lights

"Closely Watched Trains is a quiet, charming, very, human film. It comes from Czechoslovakia and isn't pushy like those big American movies; it will not force its point of view on you, or sweep you up in a tide of emotion. Indeed, if you're charged up emotionally, you'd better lie down for an hour or two before going to see it. It requires an audience at peace with itself.."  Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

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