Closely Observed Trains

Some Czech films of the 60's we had discovered about 30 years ago in the Cinematheque, had introduced to us directors like Milos Forman (The Ace of Spades, Loves of a Blonde) Vera Chytilova (Daisies), Jan Nemec (Pearls of the Deep), Jan Kadar-Elmar Klos (The shop on main street) Jaromil Jires (First Scream), Ivan Passer (Dim Lighting), etc. Later, Jiri Menzel, the former assistant of Vera Chytilova joined in the Czech New Wave with his Closely Observed trains, of 1966. Jiri Menzel who was born in Prague in 1938 has studied directing at FAMU during 1958-62, and started his profession by assisting Chytilova in her film Another Life, of 1963, was a very fresh director of just 28 when he reached international frame with his first feature Closely Observed Trains. Menzel who cooperated in writing the script with the contemporary Czech writer Bohumil Hrabal from whose novella of the same title he adapted the film, turns his camera to his country under Nazi boots during the years of the Second World War in this famous film of his, crowned with the Best Foreign Film Oscar by Hollywood in 1967. Recounting the process of the termination of the German occupation by placing a series of colored anecdotes in succession and relying on events developing in many directions, he has captured a tragic-comic style which has done away with the familiar brave Resistance fighter image. His principal character is Milos Hrma, a naïve and sympathetic young soldier who is equipped with anti-hero characteristics, and has not lost his pubescent enthusiasm. Milos, who is embarrassed, timid and extremely shy towards the other sex, attempts to prove his manhood but is also obliged to do justice to his uniform so as not to impair his family name. On the other hand, he well knows that his grandfather has hypnotized his commander in order to escape the war and that his father has passed the war behind the front doing office work, away from danger. Milos' superior is a simple person who is obsessed with raising pigeons. Another colleague is a sex maniac who abuses every woman he meets, while yet another is a conductress who has a ditermined eye on Milos. During his term at the station Milos, who watches the withdrawal of the German army, and gives way to a train of corpses, gradually becomes more aware of the great pains that the war gives rise to... Closely Observed trains, a sort of Czech-style Good soldier Schweik, which holds its camera on the war from the point of view of Milos, is, in summary, one of the brightest films of the Czech New wave, where Menzel blends poetry and humour, tragedy and joy, and where a sensitive, hümanist and optimist style becomes distinct. Sungu Çapan
Czech Republic

Jiri Menzel

Bohumil Hrabal (Bohumil Hrabal'ın romanından)
Jiri Menzel

Jaromir Sofre

Jirina Lukesová

Czechoslovak Film

Ferdinand Kruta
Jiri Menzel
Jitka Bendová
Jitka Zelenohorska
Josef Somr
Kveta Fialová
Nada Urbá nková
Vilastimil Brodsky
Vladimir Valenta

Jiri Sust

Addis Abada 1967 Grand Prize
Manheim 1966 Grand Prize
Oscar 1967

4th Festival on Wheels