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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Make no mistake - this is a GREAT film
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...
Published on 9 Aug 2008 by Joe Harley

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9 of 18 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Highly over rated 60's New wave Czech film
This is a highly acclaimed 60's new wave movie that won the Oscar for best foreign language film. It established the reputation of film director, Jiri Menzel, and is considered to be one of the very best Czech films ever made. However, embracing the possibility that this may ruin my status as a reviewer for ever, I believe its undeserved reputation significantly...
Published on 13 Sep 2009 by Roger Boon


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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Make no mistake - this is a GREAT film, 9 Aug 2008
By 
Joe Harley "Joe Harley" (Edinburgh, Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Closely Observed Trains [DVD] (DVD)
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.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars superb, 30 Jan 2008
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This review is from: Closely Observed Trains [DVD] (DVD)
This is one of the great movies. A love-story, but utterly unsentimental and in places very funny. Some of the scenes are totally unforgettable, and that's always a good sign. The "robing" of Milos in his uniform on his first day, culminating in his "crowning" with his cap, is one such. The old woman doing amazing things to a goose is another. And the comical non-kiss depicted on the CD cover. It is not easy to be deadly serious and comic, but this film manages.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A subtle film, 4 Feb 2012
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This review is from: Closely Observed Trains [DVD] (DVD)
Closely observed trains by Ji'í Menzel

This coming-of-age story about Milos, a young man working as a trainee railway station master in German-occupied Czechoslovakia during World War II, is a 1966 Czechoslovak film directed by Ji'rí Menzel. It is based on a story by Bohumil Hrabal, filmed on location in Central Bohemia, and was produced by Barrandov Studios. It won the 1967 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.

As regularly with Hrabal's stories, many things come together, private (the young man has not had intercourse yet) and public - the Czechs are forced to provide railway services under rather ruthless German management, which (rightly, as it turns out) does not trust them, sets special security requirements and assigns troops for particularly important transports.

Train dispatcher and deputy station master Hubic'ka sees to getting the apprentice's private needs fulfilled. A sexy conductress, Mása, spends the night with Milos, but he finds no success due to ejaculatio praecox and, the next day, he attempts an unsuccessful suicide. The topic, however, continues.

In a funnily comic side episode, dispatcher Hubi'cka, during the nightshift, flirts with telegraphist Zdeni'ka, and chops her buttocks with the office's rubber stamps. Her mother complains to the superiors, but her daughter denies any discomfort or ill-feelings. It is finally Viktoria, a young artiste, who delivers a bomb to the station and who, at Hubi'ka's request, helps Milos to resolve "his problem".

As a counter-service, Hubi'ka uses Milos to sabotage the important train passing through by throwing the explosive from a signal tower into the last railway wagon. However, Milos is spotted by a security guard on the train, who shoots him down, killing him; the train still explodes as planned.

A sad story? Yes and no: The microcosm of the provincial railway station, where the station master is an enthusiastic pigeon-breeder, and the job is done by staff assigned by the Railway Administration, is near-idyllic, and even the sad outcome does not come as a shock. The subtlety and deep humour with which Menzel tells the story - with all excellent actors - leaves a happy audience, despite the lacking happy end.

57 - 4 February 2012
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5.0 out of 5 stars Observe the Detail, 25 Jan 2012
By 
Dr. Delvis Memphistopheles "FIST" (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Closely Observed Trains [DVD] (DVD)
Compared to the rest of the world in 1968, this was panting its head way far ahead of its time frame. Ironic; as this gem was being polished behind the Iron Curtain, albeit at a time of ice thaw. It contains so much innuendo, all doused in a bleak cynical pathos as a sugar coated vinegar, that runs screaming towards the end of the night and drips off the end. Having read the book about life in the UK, the one depicted in the NME and how they everyone in the UK was curtailed in 68; this film is as red raw as a roadkill, standing on the same wavy surreal ley line as El Topo, built in another culture.

A bleak, black and white, Central European comic surrealist eye through the keyhole, blown through with Czech grit, creating that "trip fantasy," stepping out without the drugs. A take on the world that runs as a rich seam throughout this vicinity. Think Svankmajer, Gunter Grass, Come and See, Laibach; all different eras, continents, times and participants, but teaming with the Munchausen sensibility. A Grimm'sfairy tale, that embraces the senselessness of existence.

The young hero wants to find a meaning and purpose to his life. Sex seems to offer a way out, but he becomes lost in his developing manhood. All around him, the older men seem to have it made, whilst he appears empty.Even though, if he opened his eyes, he could see the women are falling over themselves for him. Meanwhile the propaganda is beamed, the allies may be encircling "Europe" but they are being led into a trap. Teh axis are just waiting to lose before the spring is sprung and the allies will get a hiding. The war is the eternal backdrop, tat begins as a feint whisper and then grows louder throughout the film.

The quality, ambience, acting appears based upon an assidious detail to the surreal interludes, those fragments of intrusion into the mundanity of life; random events occur with no connecting purpose. Ou hero is picked up by the SS onto a train and we expect the worst but then he is gently let off again, walking into the kitchen to see the woman stroking the goose neck as if she is masturbating the bird, the death of the rabbit, whack, chop and skin, the woman being stamped on the buttocks; each builds to heighten the fragility of the lifeforce, the sexual pleasures hidden within the imagery building to the encompassing nature of death.

Shot in black and white, this will either bore you (see low quotient levels within the cerebellum) or enthrall you, with its minutae.

Again if Channel 5 and Top Gear are your normal bag, then shift into fourth and get the pedal to the metal away from this film.

If you want to join the slow movement; this offering is for you, to ponder and smile inwardly at all those awkward moments being replayed as a squirm, an ouch and a wince.
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5.0 out of 5 stars closely observed film, 21 Nov 2009
This review is from: Closely Observed Trains [DVD] (DVD)
This is a film that can be enjoyed over and over.there are so many levels of emotions and you know all the people involved. a rare treat.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Closely Observed Lovers, 15 Jan 2013
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This review is from: Closely Observed Trains [DVD] (DVD)
This delightful film was part of the Czech new wave cinema of the 60s and is achingly poignant and wonderfully understated. Set in WW2 and built around the story of a young apprentice station master and his longing for a beautiful train conductress. It is funny, observant and full of pathos. There is everything to like about this film from the slow motion build up, to the characters being fleshed and the hints of menace where the Germans arrive...the end of course makes you weep.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 25 July 2014
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This review is from: Closely Observed Trains [DVD] (DVD)
One of my favourite films
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Watching, 29 Jan 2013
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This review is from: Closely Observed Trains [DVD] (DVD)
A good buy. It has sub titles so you need to watch closely! I Enjoyed the film and would watch it again.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Closely Observed Trains, 5 Mar 2012
This review is from: Closely Observed Trains [DVD] (DVD)
If you are looking for action packed adventure, look somewhere else. But if you want to spend a little while seeing a gentle study of life and the interaction of people this is a very beautiful and thoughtful film. For a few hours I really felt that I was in this wartime community and was sharing a flake of their lives.
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9 of 18 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Highly over rated 60's New wave Czech film, 13 Sep 2009
By 
Roger Boon (Llandudno,Wales,UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Closely Observed Trains [DVD] (DVD)
This is a highly acclaimed 60's new wave movie that won the Oscar for best foreign language film. It established the reputation of film director, Jiri Menzel, and is considered to be one of the very best Czech films ever made. However, embracing the possibility that this may ruin my status as a reviewer for ever, I believe its undeserved reputation significantly underestimates Czech cinema.
The film has a dreamlike quality which emphasises the bumbling sexual innocence of the main character, the Railway Despatcher's Apprentice,Milo, and which gives the unexpected dramatic ending real force.However, it is only then that the grim reality of the Nazi dominated world in which the film is set is really acknowledged.
Milo is also an apprentice in the important matter of life and on one level this is a coming of age film. However, the visual sexual innuendo now seems very obvious and the comedy clichéd. None of its cardboard characters are really developed and Closely Observed Trains seems very much like a slow paced version of a British "Carry On" film. Like them it feels very dated. My partner was so bored she walked out half way through it. If you want to see a really good Czech film check out the short but superb,"Most"
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Closely Observed Trains [DVD]
Closely Observed Trains [DVD] by Jirí Menzel (DVD - 2004)
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