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Article

Closely Watched Trains

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Closely Watched Trains

type:
Movie
Current Status:
In Season
mpaa:
Unrated
runtime:
93 minutes
performer:
Jitka Bendova, Vaclav Neckar
director:
Jiri Menzel
distributor:
Fox Lorber Home Video
author:
Jiri Menzel
genre:
Drama, Foreign Language

We gave it an A-

Director Jiri Menzel expertly juggles pathos and absurdity in this erotic and ultimately shocking black comedy about life at a Czechoslovak train station during World War II. With a puritanical stationmaster and a satyric conductor for role models, a callow dispatcher (Vaclav Neckar) discovers love and pain on his new job. Menzel’s generosity of spirit toward his characters lends the film a sweetness that is accomplished and rare. Winner of the Best Foreign Film Oscar in 1967, Closely Watched Trains loses little, and in fact gains in intimacy, in the transfer to video (at least in this new release — avoid the older, RCA/Columbia version, whose subtitles are frequently unreadable). A-

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