A tender and charming coming-of-age story that gives the Czech New Wave a good name. A juxtaposition of comedic obscenity and the underlying solemnity of a tragedy. It would be a fun challenge to try and find every phallic image or subtle erotic suggestion that come up on screen.
So much more than a coming-of-age film, Hrabal's work knowingly articulates a complex sense of national identity and Menzel captures perfectly that idiosyncratic blend of comedy, pathos, absurdity and, above all, compassion. Stylistically it remains a comic delight but it also has real satiric teeth and an urgent appeal for liberation - pertinent to both the film's setting and the circumstances in which it was made.
...one of the highest points of world cinema,; Czchekoslovakia .... 1966 ... nothing is as bad as it seems . As we gasp and grasp for air in a sea of strictly regulated passion, history has the ability to snatch us up and impose manhood suddenly and unexpectedly. - Now I have finally seen this classic, better known as Closely Observed Trains, having read so many reviews... it was still a great delight and surprise
Sexual frankness is unnerving in black and white, yet this film is of-its-time, preceded by the first few Carry On films: broad humour, a historical backdrop undermined by irreverent farce, and female characters who (aside from a pair of kindly old mothers) are invariably willing nubiles. In Milos's eyes, everyone is doing it, so why can't he? A film about the unfairness of adolescence, and finally history.
4 and a half stars - I'm feeling generous to boost it to 5, because in part of the time and place in which it was made, just before the Soviet tanks came to impose their government's view and crush this sort of humanistic, comic, dark, piece of celebratory art.
So many great moments in this film. It's about love and sacrifice, and is filled with humor. I like that the young man is so open about his problems. Milos is talking to the station master. "Dr Brabec said that an older woman should teach me, so I was wondering whether you know one." "No, I don't, Milos, you'll have to find one yourself." "What about your wife?" "No, she's all mine!"