Humorous, erotic, tragic but above all human . This is film-making of an order analagous to Shakespeare's finest plays, cutting across genres, cultures, languages.
I've just watched it for perhaps the 10th time, and I'm still struck by it's freshness and deep emotional power. It's replete with comic moments, and yet there is an underlying tragic depth to it. The pairing of Hrma and Hubicka as, respectively, the apprentice and the mature signalman, makes the most likeable duo in cinema - flawed, lazy, but human. Hubicka , in the end, assists Hrma with losing his virginity. Stereotping is avoided - all of the characters are imbued with humour - even the local Nazi, as when he repeatedly describes that the latest German retreats mean that the situation is 'extremely favourable' - or when the Station Master transparently and hypocritcally declaims against 'modern eroticism' , shortly after blunderingly trying to chat up Hubicka's girlfriend. Ironic moments abound - as when the Station Master salutes the Nazi's car, only for it to reverse away in the opposite direction. But, there's a fantastic motif of a clock chiming - signalling perhaps death, and rebirth. So Hrma's demise is 'signalled' at the end of the film, by the chimes, and by his girlfriend finding his cap ( which has been a symbol throughout) - so both unimportant (chimes = it has ever been thus ), and yet heartbreakingly tragic for his, as yet, unfulfilled girl. I'm afraid I can't find the words truly to do justice to the film.