The objects in the films seem to offer silent resistance to fascistic authority - the stuffing exposed by tears in the station master's chair; the rubber stamp pressed upon Zdenička's buttocks. There can't be many films that work simultaneously as bitter-sweet coming of age story, enjoyably saucy sex farce, and bitter political allegory. A meticulously well-balanced film pulled off with a real lightness of touch.
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.