Closely Observed Trains (Jiri Menzel. 1966)

CloselyWatchedTrains2

 

It’s a shame that the Czech new wave movement was such a brief moment in cinematic history. Closely Observed Trains is from that European art cinema mold of the 50s and 60s. It’s risque, sexy, political and altogether quite funny.

It’s also one of the best coming of age stories in cinema. The tale of Milos the train signalman is a wonderfully compact and lean document of a young man trying to understand the transition between boy and man. His position as an apprentice signalman also offers a sort of line up of (all fairly flawed) male bosses and role models, creating a question about whether there is even a change in maturity or whether it’s just an imaginary construct.

The dialogue is sharp and witty. However, amongst the hilarity and the youthful energy, there is a darker, more sobering quality to Menzel’s film. Milos’ involvement in the fight against nazi Germany’s forces leaves a bitter taste in the mouth about human mortality and how impressionable both adult and child can be.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s