This charming, ironic romantic humorous drama by Jiri Menzl is probably the most famous film not only of the Czechoslovak new wave, but of the cinematography there in general. They won the “Closely Watched Trains” Original title: Ostre sledované vlakya, Oscar for best film outside the English-speaking world and crowned Menzl with the title of the first name of the Czechoslovak new wave. But, unlike his compatriot Miloš Forman, he decided to stay in his country, although he was banned from working a few years later after the censored “Larks on a String”. Interestingly, “Sharply Trained Trains,” as this legendary film is called in the original, was also the first feature film to be made by Menzl in a career spanning more than half a century.
The screenplay for a film about a young man working as a train supervisor during the Nazi occupation was written by equally legendary writer Bohumil Hrabal. This young supervisor is Miloš Hrma (Vaclav Neckar), who introduces us to his family history and his eccentric great-grandfather, children and father. The Germans occupied Czechoslovakia, and it was time for young Miloš to find a job after his father realized his life’s dream and retired early. Like many of his peers, Miloš is in love with the handsome young conductor Masha (Jitka Bendova), who also likes Miloš, but he will realize that he is not good enough for her when he throws out the contents of his testicles much too early on the first night together. .
That is why Miloš will try to commit suicide, but fortunately there is a good doctor who will suggest that he could find a more experienced girl to train and fight against premature ejaculation. Of course, this will not be an easy task, especially after the station boss refuses to offer him his wife, but the young and inexperienced Miloš will not be bothered and he will continue to look for a woman or girl who could make him a man. “Closely Watched Trains” was an ingenious and humanistic tragicomedy and film that presented to the whole world not only Czechoslovak cinematography, which experienced a real boom in the mid-1960s, but also that great Czech spirit. It is this ability and power to always be in the mood for top-notch jokes even in the worst and most difficult times, that is also one of the characteristics of the films of the new wave there.
“Closely Watched Trains” is a great film and because Menzl (who was 28 at the time of filming) perfectly, with a lot of irony, and not malice, shows all the suffering of a young hero or railway station supervisor in a sleepy provincial town. Although there is a war around him, even though the Nazis occupied his country, even though many of his peers joined the partisans or are in the resistance movement, Miloš’s biggest problem and biggest concern is to take the burden of virginity off his neck. The whole world is in chaos, and Miloš’s older colleagues are filling his head and only creating additional pressure that makes it increasingly difficult for him to cope. The masterful Menzl brings an extremely cynical, bitter-sweet depiction of these great worries of a young man who does not bother at all with who and what comes and goes in the trains to which he gives the signal, but his worries are much more serious. Rating 10/10.
MORE MOVIE REVIEWS: MODELAR (2020, CZE) Movie review, plot, trailer, rating