Scharf beobachtete Z√ľge - Ostre sledovan√© vlaky

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The young MiloŇ° Hrma, who speaks with misplaced pride of his family of misfits and malingerers, is engaged as a newly trained station guard in a small railway station during the Second World War and the German occupation of Czechoslovakia. He admires himself in his new uniform, and looks forward, like his prematurely-retired railwayman father, to avoiding real work. The sometimes pompous stationmaster is an enthusiastic pigeon-breeder with a kind wife, but is envious of the train dispatcher Hubińćka's success with women. MiloŇ° holds an as-yet platonic love for the pretty, young conductor M√°Ň°a. The experienced Hubińćka presses for details of their relationship and realizes that MiloŇ° is still a virgin. The idyll of the railway station is periodically disturbed by the arrival of the councillor, Zednicek, a Nazi collaborator, who spouts propaganda at the staff without success. At her initiative, M√°Ň°a spends the night with MiloŇ°, but in his youthful excitability he ejaculates prematurely before achieving penetration and then is unable to perform sexually; and the next day, despairing, he attempts suicide. He is saved, and a young doctor explains to him that ejaculatio praecox is normal at MiloŇ°'s age. The doctor recommends MiloŇ° to "think of something else" (at which point MiloŇ° volunteers an interest in football), and to seek the assistance of an experienced woman. During the nightshift, Hubińćka flirts with the young telegraphist, Zdenińćka, and imprints her thighs and buttocks with the office's rubber stamps. Her mother sees the stamps and complains to Hubińćka's superiors, and the ensuing scandal helps to frustrate the stationmaster's ambition of being promoted to inspector.
The Germans and their collaborators are on edge, since their trains are being attacked by the partisans. A glamorous Resistance agent (a circus artist in peacetime), code-named Viktoria Freie, delivers a time bomb to Hubińćka for use in blowing up a large ammunition train. At Hubińćka's request, the "experienced" Viktoria also helps MiloŇ° to resolve his sexual problem. The next day, at the crucial moment when the ammunition train is approaching, Hubińćka is caught up in a farcical disciplinary hearing, overseen by Zednicek, over his rubber stamping of Zdenińćka's backside. In Hubińćka's place, MiloŇ°, liberated by his experience with Viktoria from his former passivity, takes the time bomb and drops it from a semaphore gantry, that extends transversely above the tracks, onto the train. A machine-gunner on the train, spotting MiloŇ°, sprays him with bullets, and his body falls onto the train. With the Nazi collaborator Zednicek, winding up the disciplinary hearing, dismissing the Czech people as "nothing but laughing hyenas" (a phrase actually employed by the senior Nazi official Reinhard Heydrich, the implicit retort to his jibe comes in the form of a huge series of explosions that destroys the train. Now Hubińćka and the other railwaymen are indeed laughing ‚ÄĒ to express their joy at the blow to the Nazi occupiers ‚ÄĒ and it is left to a wistful M√°Ň°a to pick up MiloŇ°'s uniform cap, hurled across the station by the power of the blast. (wp)

Festivals & awards

Academy Award, Oscar, Bester fremdsprachiger Film 1967

British Film prize for best film & best music 1969

Grosser Preis am Internationalen Filmfestival Mannheim

artwork

Credits

Original Title
Scharf beobachtete Z√ľge - Ostre sledovan√© vlaky
Title
Scharf beobachtete Z√ľge - Ostre sledovan√© vlaky
Directed by
Jiri Menzel
Country
Czech Republic
Year
1966
Screenplay
Bohumil Hrabal, Jiri Menzel
Film Editing
JiŇôina LukeŇ°ov√°
Soundtrack
JiŇô√≠ ҆ust
Cinematography
Jarom√≠r ҆ofr
Production
Zdenńõk Oves, Barrandov Studios Ceskoslovensky Film
Formats
Blu-ray, DCP
Runtime
93 min.
Language
Tschechisch, Deutsch/d oder f
Cast
V√°clav Neck√°Ňô, Jitka Bendov√°, LibuŇ°e Havelkov√°, Josef Somr, Alois Vachek

Pro Material

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Press voices

¬ęSein in Schwarz-Weiss gedrehtes Werk √ľber die amour√∂sen Verstrickungen eines Bahnhofsw√§rters, der seine Ausbildung auf einem kleinen tschechischen Provinzbahnhof in den letzten Wochen des Zweiten Weltkriegs absolviert, ist wohl eine der bezauberndsten und poetischsten Filme √ľber eine Liebe in Zeiten des Krieges.¬Ľ Luzerner Zeitung, Geri Krebs

¬ęMenzel mag den Erfolg seines ersten Langspielfilms als Zufallstreffer bezeichnen, doch der Film, der Ende des Zweiten Weltkriegs spielt und ein schweres Thema aufgreift, verbindet gekonnt Humor und Ironie mit fantasievoller Sinnlichkeit und zeigt liebevoll die Banalit√§ten des Lebens.¬Ľ Filmbulletin, Tereza Fischer

¬ęGl√§nzend inszenierte Kom√∂die, deren Witze allerdings etwas zu einseitig auf sexuellem Gebiet angesiedelt sind, ohne da√ü dabei die beabsichtigte Konfrontation von Obsz√∂nit√§t und Tragik erreicht wird. F√ľr Erwachsene.¬Ľ Filmbeobachter

¬ęHervorragend inszenierte und gut gespielte Kom√∂die.¬Ľ Lexikon des Internationalen Films

¬ęDie nationalsozialistische Besatzungsmacht durchkreuzt den idyllisch abgelegenen Bahnhof in Form ¬ęscharf beobachteter Z√ľge¬Ľ, die Munition transportieren. Umgeben von einem taubenliebenden Bahnvorsteher, einem erotomanen Signalgeber und einem m√ľssigg√§ngerischen W√§chter versucht der neue Bahnlehrling Milos verzweifelt, seine Jungfr√§ulichkeit zu verlieren. Erst die Widerstandsk√§mpferin Viktoria Freie macht Milos zum Mann. Milos' mit allgegenw√§rtiger Sinnlichkeit und offener L√ľsternheit gespickte ¬ę√©ducation sentimentale¬Ľ explodiert dabei regelrecht in einem Akt heldenhafter Kriegssabotage. Knapp 30-j√§hrig erh√§lt Jir√≠ Menzel f√ľr sein Deb√ľt 1968 den Oscar. Newsweek verneigt sich vor Menzels ¬ęGeschmack, Phantasie, Einfachheit und Zartheit¬Ľ, die ¬ędie meisten amerikanischen Regisseure zutiefst besch√§men sollte¬Ľ, w√§hrend der bundesdeutsche Filmdienst 1968 entsetzt ist ob des ¬ęderben, mit schw√ľler Erotik vollgestopften Volksschwanks¬Ľ.¬Ľ Zeughauskino Berlin