Saturday, 4 October 2008
Closely Observed Trains
Last night I watched the wonderful Czech film Closely Observed Trains - a film adaptation of the Hrabal novel . I have quite a collection of those free DVDs that they give away with newspapers. As these come in simple cardboard covers they are easy to transport over to the Czech Republic in hand luggage. In the case of Closely Observed Trains you might say I was taking coals to Newcastle when I brought that film over, however as a freebie from The Independent this version has the advantage of having English subtitles.
The film is directed by Jiri Menzel and follows the story of Milos Hrma as he struggles to lose his virginity, apparently oblivious to the Nazi occupation of his country and the wider struggle going on around him. Most of the film is set in the sleepy backwater train station where Milos works or rather does very little – the reason why he wanted the job in the first place was in order to avoid working. The film is populated with wonderful comic characters, who are also sympathetically portrayed. In addition to being great comedy, the film is also healthily sexy – one of the best scenes is when Milos' mentor (in more ways than one) at the station seduces a female co-worker with the use of the station's rubber stamps. At the end Milos turns out to be an unexpected war hero, but even this ending is handled with a lightness of touch which is so refreshingly Czech.
The video clip above is the American trailer for the film (in the US it was called Closely Watched Trains). May I suggest you turn the sound off when you watch it, the voiceover is annoying and unnecessary.