Close Up

29 April 2019: Closely Observed Trains


Closely Observed Trains
Jiří Menzel, 1966, 93 min
Czech with English subtitles

"[The] story of a teenage boy whose greatest concern amidst the cataclysm of the war is how to lose his virginity, and thus enter into adult society. Redemption finally arrives in the person of an extremely attractive blond who is at the same time the leader of the Resistance. But tragedy casts its shadow on the unexpected happiness; at the end of the road he sacrifices himself in the most natural way... Modest events describe and characterize the heroism. No one has been able to portray the boredom, the void of everyday life in a small town's railway station, the longing for exciting adventures, the gentle eroticism of adolescence, as Menzel did, in a sharp contrast to the presence of the brutal war. Its intimacy is the result of a peculiar biting humor and a sexuality that endears the anecdotes with a profound, discreet charm. In Menzel's vision, the average man, the simple common people – the Chaplinesque or Svejk-like innocent victim – becomes the central figure of an offbeat, bittersweet poetry.” –  Yvette Biro

Part of our season on the Czechoslovak New Wave