Jirí Menzel

Jirí Menzel

Highest Rated: 100% Closely Watched Trains (1966)

Lowest Rated: 71% Capricious Summer (1968)

Birthday: Feb 23, 1938

Birthplace: Prague, Czechoslovakia

At the age of 28, Jiri Menzel's debut feature, "Closely Watched Trains" (1966), one of the important films of the Czech New Wave, was award the Best Foreign-Language Academy Award. Menzel's vision combined a devotion to the poetry of the commonplace with his own special brand of slapstick. Menzel's first outing as a director was the episode, "The Death of Mr. Baltazar," in "Pearls of the Deep" (1965), devoted to the work of Czech writer Bohumil Hrabal. Another episodic film, based on works by writer Josef Skvorecky, featured a Menzel-directed title episode, "Crime at the Girls School" (1965), in which characteristically quixotic details--a statue blowing smoke, potted plants camouflaging potty teachers--enlivened the narrative. Naivete led him to accept the direction of "Closely Watched Trains," an adaptation of a Bohumil Hrabal novel offered to, but refused by, several other filmmakers. After Menzel convinced the author to make changes in the interest of cinema, the completed work appealed more to Hrabal than his own book. This story illustrates Menzel's ability to work in close creative collaboration and still maintain artistic integrity; it also indicates his modesty in offering others the credit for work bearing his own distinctive signature. "Closely Watched Trains" celebrates the primitive but life-affirming sexuality of the Czech peasantry as well as exploding the popular conception of the heroic WWII resistance fighter. In 1968, Menzel adapted another literary masterpiece, Vladislav Vancura's "Capricious Summer." Menzel himself plays the interloping tightrope walker, Arnostek, in an astonishing performance full of enthusiastic amateurism and the split-second timing and balance of circus professionals. (It is an act Menzel is wont to repeat on stage, where he still performs nightly when not directing films. He has also appeared in movies by other directors.) Menzel's 1969 masterpiece "Larks on a String," an outspoken satire on the Communist "reeducation" of the bourgeoisie, was banned upon completion but released to critical acclaim in the West in 1990. By 1974, Menzel had managed to work again on the conventional "Who Looks for Gold?," a film he now disowns as simply a reward for having recanted his political beliefs (he vigorously resumed his political activities in 1989). His comedy became more physical, drawing on the styles of the American silent era. "Those Wonderful Men with a Crank" (1978) and "Short Cut" (1980) defend nonconformity from within the safety of nostalgia. The latter was again written by Hrabal, as was "The Snowdrop Festival" (1983). This film and "Seclusion Near a Forest" (1976) poke fun at the idyllic notions cherished by urban Czechs of the countryside to which they retreat every weekend. In 1986, "My Sweet Little Village" elaborated on this theme and became an international hit.Jiri Menzel died in his hometown of Prague on September 5, 2020 at the age of 82 following a long illness.

Highest rated movies

Closely Watched Trains
The Interpreter



86% No Score Yet The Interpreter Ali Ungár (Character) - 2018
No Score Yet No Score Yet The Wolf From Royal Vineyard Street Self - 2016
No Score Yet No Score Yet The Don Juans Director,
- 2013
No Score Yet No Score Yet Signál Prokes (Character) - 2012
No Score Yet 40% Operation Danube Oskar (Character) - 2009
80% 81% I Served the King of England Director,
$617.2K 2006
No Score Yet No Score Yet Ten Minutes Older: The Cello Director,
- 2002
No Score Yet No Score Yet Every Sunday Államtitkár (Character) - 1997
No Score Yet 60% The Life and Extraordinary Adventures of Private Ivan Chonkin Director - 1994
No Score Yet No Score Yet The Minor Apocalypse Stan (Character) - 1993
No Score Yet No Score Yet The End of Old Times Director - 1992
No Score Yet No Score Yet Martha and I Unknown (Character) - 1990
No Score Yet 89% My Sweet Little Village Director - 1986
No Score Yet 82% The Snowdrop Festival Director,
- 1984
No Score Yet 0% Ferat Vampire Dr. Marek (Character) - 1982
No Score Yet 89% Na samote u lesa Director - 1977
No Score Yet No Score Yet The Apple Game Josef John (Character) - 1976
No Score Yet No Score Yet Skrivanci Na Nitich Director - 1969
No Score Yet 88% Larks on a String Director,
- 1969
71% 74% Capricious Summer Director - 1968
No Score Yet No Score Yet Dita Saxová Unknown (Character) - 1968
No Score Yet No Score Yet Hotel pro cizince Pot-boy (Character) - 1967
100% 87% Closely Watched Trains Dr. Brabec (uncredited) (Character),
- 1966
No Score Yet 52% Pearls of the Deep Bicyclist (Character),
- 1965
No Score Yet No Score Yet Ceiling Unknown (Character) - 1962
No Score Yet No Score Yet The Return of the Prodigal Son Jiri (Character) - 0000