Closely Watched Trains (1966) - Plot Summary Poster


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  • An apprentice train dispatcher at a village station seeks his first sexual encounter and becomes despondent when he is unable to perform.

  • A young man follows his father's footsteps and joins the railway company, where he learns the job and has his first affair. Set in the country, during the German occupation.

  • It's early in WWII after the Nazis have invaded Czechoslovakia. From a long line of men who value idleness, those men including his ex-train engineer father who retired at age forty-eight, young Milos Hrma is proud that his first job is as apprentice train dispatcher at Kostomlátky Station, the job which townsfolk can view with envy in being important - he looking good in the process in needing to wear a uniform - but he actually having little to do besides carrying his disc around on the platform when the infrequent trains come in and out of the station. The other regular employees are the pretentious yet ineffective stationmaster who is more concerned with his pigeon-keeping and complaining about others' morals without doing anything about it, and Hubicka, the head dispatcher. Milos admires Hubicka not only in he also being able to do his job without placing much effort into "work", but what seems to be his natural way with women as Milos, still a virgin, does not have that as part of his being. Regardless, Milos' friend, Mása, who works as a conductor as well as sides as an assistant in her uncle's photography business, makes it clear that she wants to get to know him in the sexual sense. Milos sees sexual ability as a sign of manhood, and he really wants to be a man. In the process, Milos may discover that there are other ways to display what he considers manliness as town councilor Zednícek, a Nazi collaborator, informs those working at the station of the importance of their work as trains crucial to the Nazi cause come and go throughout the country.

  • Comedy-drama about a young man employed in a tiny station during World War II. Milos Hrma, a bumbling dispatcher's apprentice at a village railway station in occupied Czechoslovakia, longs to liberate himself from his virginity. Oblivious to the war and the resistance that surrounds him, he embarks on a journey of sexual awakening and self-discovery, encountering a universe of frustration, eroticism, and adventure within his sleepy backwater depot. Milos becomes involved in a plot to blow up a German ammunition train, but when the plan backfires, he is forced to commit the ultimate act of courage.


The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • The time is the 1940s, sometime during the period of the Nazi Occupation in Czechoslovakia and Milos Hrma (Vaclav Neckar) is telling the viewer about his ancestors and their working history, many of them loafers and incompetents. Milos states that he desires a job in which he will not have to do any work. Milos tells the story of one of his uncles who worked as a mentalist, and as the army stormed into the Czech town he stood before them mentally holding them back, upon which time the army promptly crush the uncle under their wheels and moved on. Among some of the facts of life that Milos learns are the way that men behave around women, specifically how men and women mate. Milos watches as a train dispatcher Hubicka (Josef Somr) seduces a young woman who visits the station. Milos is approached by Masa (Marie Jezkova) a young beautiful train conductor and whisked away for a weekend of sex. Milos, young and unknowing about the ways of mating, doesnt perform and under emotional anxiety tries to commit suicide. Attending therapy and readjusting, Milos returns to the station where he gets involved in the Czech underground, an organization planning to bomb a Nazi munitions train. When Hubicka is called before a group because he has been caught in a tryst with Holy Zdenka (Jitka Zelenohorska) a young woman, Milos takes action against the occupying army.

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