Ostre Sledované Vlaky (Closely Watched Trains) (1966)



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Movie Info

In this film, Vaclav Neckar plays a Czech railroad worker during the Nazi occupation. He undergoes several philosophical changes as he becomes attracted to the Czech underground. Determining at last that his own existence hardly matters in the scheme of things, Neckar volunteers for a suicide mission.


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Critic Reviews for Ostre Sledované Vlaky (Closely Watched Trains)

All Critics (16) | Top Critics (1)

A quiet, charming, very, human film. It comes from Czechoslovakia and isn't pushy like those big American movies; it will not force its point of view on you, or sweep you up in a tide of emotion.

Oct 23, 2004 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…

Menzel's film watches people working and laughs at them, among other things: a compressed, quite unwhimsical anecdote, with a special feeling for the gaps between people, and the obsessive clutter which fills them.

Jul 5, 2018 | Full Review…

[VIDEO ESSAY] Jiří Menzel's 1966 masterwork of the Czechoslovakian New Wave captures the country's unique cultural identity via a subversive wartime story based on a novel by Bohumil Hrabal.

May 17, 2011 | Rating: A+ | Full Review…

The absurdist fun resonates strongly in the memory.

Nov 15, 2009 | Full Review…

An engaging, dry satire on the the pitfalls of laziness while doubling as a character study.

Jan 19, 2009 | Rating: 65/100 | Full Review…

A note-perfect dissection of how male sexual solipsism and the world at large intersect.

Sep 22, 2008 | Rating: 9/10 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Ostre Sledované Vlaky (Closely Watched Trains)


A master class in direction, mise-en-scène, cinematography and editing (there is not a single shot out of place), and it makes the best use of a smart symbolism and hilarious sarcasm to jibe the Czech people and society as well as the soviet regime they were living under at the time.

Carlos Magalhães
Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer


A young man's search for identity, and getting laid, is interrupted by World War ll, dammit. Later on Menzel will remake this film ("I Served The King Of England") and it'll be a better film then, but this earlier work pretty well gets all the ideas in there anyway. There's an interestingly parodoxical scene where the hero, unable to "achieve manhood", as he phrases it, goes to a brothel to commit suicide. Funny, no? Yes.

Kevin M. Williams
Kevin M. Williams

Super Reviewer

A young man's burgeoning sexuality is a refuge and a distraction from the Nazi occupation. Reading other reviews, I think there is a lot of context that I'm missing. I'm unfamiliar with Czech New Wave cinema or the historical contexts that must have affected the film's production. What I saw was a slow film that didn't amount to much beyond a self-conscious sex comedy. I noticed the satire when pious men deploy religion against sexual urges; though the reality is the complainers are just pissed off they aren't getting laid. And when Milos goes around asking various older women to sleep with him to cure him of "premature ejaculation," it seemed more the matter for a college comedy than an auteur's tour de force. Overall, I wasn't impressed with Closely Watched Trains, but I'm owning my own ignorance in this review.

Jim Hunter
Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer

This film is a stylish and sensitive examination of adolescent fears and insecurities, a topic that never ever goes out of fashion. Jiri Menzel 'closely watches' a young man whose life revolves around a desire to lose his virginity, when he is not "busy" guarding a railway platform, literally watching and waving at the trains. In his static, inwards lifestyle, the character Milos, played by Vaclav Neckar, prefers to wither in his personal frustrations than to focus on the approaching German occupation; soon enough the clash of external violence and profound self-loathing send him over the edge and make him abandon his usual observant position. It may sound all very gloomy, and can be very heartbreaking at times, but the film is also very funny, full of black humor and awkward sexual metaphors. The character of Milos is unique in that he is both pathetic and heroic at the same time, and the film has a general 'quotidian' and relatable feel to it. Neckar's perfect performance, cool and clear cinematography and surrealistic undertones complete its charm.

Elvira B
Elvira B

Super Reviewer

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