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Closely Watched Trains
(Ostre Sledovane Vlaky)
Czechoslovakia - 1966
Directed by Jiri Menzel


Set during WWII, this story is about a young man, Milos Hrma, who has inherited a cushy railroad job in a small Czechoslovakian town. He begins his training just as the German occupation is setting in.  It's hard to tell what the chief influences have been in Milos' life.  His father lies in bed with a long-ago healed injury, happily collecting his pension.  His grandfather, a hypnotist, was killed while standing in front of the invading German tanks, trying to "hypnotize" them into retreat. Milos shows little interest in the German occupation or the war.  His chief concerns are adjusting to his new job and finding a way to lose his virginity.

The uncomplicated Milos begins to become influenced by a co-worker who is passionately opposed to the occupying forces.  We are surprised by the actions of the seemingly oblivious Milos when he takes part in a covert act of sabotage, with devastating results.

This is a well crafted film in classic black&white compositions, the grainy texture gives the film a newsreel quality at times.  Closely Watched Trains won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film (1968).

Czech with English subtitles.  Runtime:  89 minutes

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