Movie Review - Closely Watched Trains

Photo taken by me – The Footage pub sign – Manchester
Preston, England
February 13, 2018 4:32pm CST
1966 – Spoiler alerts A very beautiful movie that was given to me on DVD as one of my birthday presents this weekend. Though set in Czechoslovakia during the wartime occupation, and involving brave Resistance fighters, this is really a bittersweet coming of age ex-comedy, though with way more subtlety than any Carry On film or episodes of Allo Allo. That didn’t stop one Rotten Tomatoes reviewer describing it as Porkys meets The Guns Of Navarone, but he really misses the point. Plot – Milos (Vaclav Neckar) gets a new uniform when he starts work as a signalman for a quiet little village railway station. He sees this as a way to avoid the war, or any real work at all. He is ominously from a family of men who made bad career choices. His grand-father was a hypnotist who was convinced that he could use his powers to order an entire German tank division to leave the country. They just ran him over. Milo is saddened that many of the men around him seem highly sexed. When he finally meets a girl he genuinely loves he suffers premature ejaculation during an air raid and tries to kill himself, only to be advised by his doctor and eccentric work colleagues to seek help and experience from an older lady. He is guided into the care of a middle aged acrobat, but she is a key resistance leader too. Milo’s chief co-worker has sex issues of his own. His use of the station paper-stamps on his lover’s bottom gets him into a disciplinary hearing. This interferes with his plans to bomb a passing troop train, and Milo take the job on instead, finding his manhood and maturity in a very different way than he hoped. Subtle pathos and likeable characters with the war almost a background menace. The characters mostly try to live their lives as if the Germans were not around. The one collaborating figure recognizes that the Germans are retreating all over Europe but tries convincing himself that it is a tactical manoeuvre to lure the allies into a false sense of security. Other characters try not to laugh at him. He eventually calls them all laughing hyenas but when they all laugh when the last train is blown up, even he can’t resist joining in. The black and white photography is lovely, and no doubt train-spotters will drool over the celluloid capture of the Golden Age of steam. Though it has dialogue it also seems to have a silent atmosphere. For much of the film characters don’t pay much attention to the trains but the title ensures that the viewers do, seeing in doing so, the ominous encroachment of tragedy but one the characters laugh aside. A very subtle movie about very unsubtle events in a country that we gave away to Hitler even before the wartime invasions began, but Czechoslovakia was never an Axis country, and as this film shows, love and fun mattered more to many than the conflict that tried to destroy it for all. Arthur Chappell
7 people like this
6 responses
@JudyEv (118544)
• Bunbury, Australia
13 Feb
Sounds a very interesting movie and what a good choice of your friend. Do you know if they had seen it before choosing it for you?
2 people like this
• Preston, England
14 Feb
@JudyEv yes, we often exchange our favourite movies
2 people like this
@JohnRoberts (52017)
• Los Angeles, California
14 Feb
Oscar winner for Best Foreign Language Film.
2 people like this
@Corbin5 (99707)
• United States
13 Feb
I would enjoy this one. Very cleverly made. I love the humor within the movie you shared with us.
1 person likes this
• Preston, England
14 Feb
@Corbin5 it is well worth watching
1 person likes this
@Courage7 (5533)
• United States
13 Feb
A great review. So glad you got this treasured movie for a gift.
1 person likes this
@teamfreak16 (40502)
• Colorado Springs, Colorado
13 Feb
This sounds really funny.
1 person likes this
@amadeo (61458)
• United States
13 Feb
I love that country.Find it very interesting.The movie sounds great there.
1 person likes this