Thursday 4 December 2008

Closely Watched Trains [1966]

One of the most outstanding products of the sixties’ Czech New Wave movement, Jiri Menzel’s Closely Watched Trains is a black political satire presented in the garb of a delectable and farcical comedy. Like his latest work I Served the King of England, at the heart of the movie lies a charming and deceptively innocent fable (with a diminutive protagonist) that is as much an absurdist parable as it is a sharp political critique. The movie follows a soft spoken but seemingly apathetic young guy, Milos, who has gotten the safe job of a railroad worker during the turbulent and draconian Nazi occupied Czechoslovakia. What follows is a curiously funny coming-of-age story, but with enough allusions and indications that his safely ensconced existence is surely on the path of experiencing a tragic turn of events. Filled with unforgettable incidents, fascinating characters that could easily be called parodies, and moments of wry black humour and farce, this universally acknowledged masterpiece and deeply human anti-war movie deserves far wider recognition in popular circles.

Director: Jiri Menzel
Genre: Comedy/Political Satire/War Drama/Resistance Movie/Coming of Age
Language: Czech
Country: Czech Republic (erstwhile Czechoslovakia)


Anonymous said...

What a charming film... I've always wanted to explore more of Menzel. May be someday.

Shubhajit said...

Couldn't agree with you more - a deceptively charming film indeed...