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Dried eyelids in Jirí Menzel’s Closely Watched Trains (1966) October 24, 2007

Posted by Richard Bolisay in Cine Europa, European Films, Literature.


Original Title: Ostre sledované vlaky
Directed by Jirí Menzel
Cast: Vàclav Neckár, Josef Somr, Vlastimil Brodsky

The finale of Jirí Menzel’s Closely Watched Trains, a wrenching train explosion intently pulled off by its charming protagonist who apprentices as a train dispatcher in a railway station, makes up for this war film that confounds corneal strength — no, no it’s not difficult to watch, it is in fact pleasing, but it takes a while before the idea sinks in, while one closes his eyes and realizes that the credits are already rolling. I have not much to say except that having seen it, it doesn’t surprise me that it won the 1967 Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film. Its gratifying nature, hence worthy of certain famosity interpolated by the Academy, satisfies very well to the point that one thinks, Politics is very much alive since then, and even then. See it, nothing will be lost. The thought of World War II premature ejaculation is enough to have everyone in the audience giggling, and the mention of the phrase is countless. While rubbing my eyes, Andrzej Wajda’s War Trilogy (A Generation, Kanal, and Ashes and Diamonds) comes into mind, and like Menzel’s highly praised work, I cannot feel its supposed rebelliousness to war and in fact its neutrality as a peaceful war film overwhelms me. Or probably, this is just Kill-joy. * *


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