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CLOSELY WATCHED TRAINS

Czechoslovakia, 1966 (MIFF 1968, Programme 3)

Director: Jirí Menzel

The locale is a small railway station somewhere in Bohemia during the Second World War. Nothing much happens here, except that some shabby carriages come to a brief stop or, now and then, a German transport passes by. There are only a few people around: the old stationmaster, the assistant, and Milos the apprentice—a frightened faun of a youth, all eyes and knobbly knees. The film tells of the misadventures of this fledgling male, confronting the adult world for the first time.

In this, his first feature, director Jirí Menzel mixes the real and the surreal, ribaldry and pathos, in a dark comedy about lost innocence. The film catches every nuance of Milos' often painful revelations, and leaves the audience stunned by an inevitable, yet unexpected fate.

Grand Prix, Mannheim Festival.

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