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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

(aka 'Closely Observed Trains" or "Closely Watched Trains")

directed by Jirí Menzel
Czechoslovakia 19
66

Shy teenage virgin Milo gets his first job as a railway dispatcher and is suddenly forced to confront the realities of the adult world, not least the temptations of the opposite sex. But they in turn are more attracted to his more experienced colleague Hubi ka and his distinctive way with an inkpad and rubber stamp...

This could easily have fuelled a light comedy, but Ji í Menzel s bittersweet feature debut is set during World War II in Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia, and the various farcical goings-on threaten to distract attention from the far more pressing business of staying alive especially since German trains are being attacked by resistance fighters and everyone is under suspicion of collaboration.

Co-written by the great Czech novelist Bohumil Hrabal (author of the classic source novella), Closely Observed Trains won Menzel a Best Foreign Film Oscar when he was still in his twenties, and it remains one of the best-loved of all Czech films.

***

At a village railway station in occupied Czechoslovakia, a bumbling dispatcher’s apprentice longs to liberate himself from his virginity. Oblivious to the war and the resistance that surrounds him, this young man embarks on a journey of sexual awakening and self-discovery, encountering a universe of frustration, eroticism, and adventure within his sleepy backwater depot. Wry and tender, Academy Award™-winning Closely Watched Trains is a masterpiece of human observation and one of the best-loved films of the Czech New Wave.

 

Posters

Theatrical Release: November 18th, 1966 - Czechoslovakia

Reviews                                                                                 More Reviews                                                                        DVD Reviews

 

Comparison:

The Criterion Collection - Region 0 - NTSC vs. Arrow Video - Region FREE - Blu-ray

1) Criterion - Region 0 - NTSC - LEFT

2) Arrow - Region FREE - Blu-ray - RIGHT

 

Box Covers

   

Distribution Criterion Collection - Spine # 131 - Region 0 - NTSC Arrow Video
Region FREE -
Blu-ray
Runtime 1:33:21  1:32:52.650 
Video 1.30:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.68 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s 

1.33:1 1080P / 23.976 fps Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 46,396,535,265 bytes

Feature: 29,092,906,368 bytes

Video Bitrate: 37.97 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate:

Bitrate: Blu-ray

Audio Czech, German (Dolby Digital 1.0)  LPCM Audio Czech 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit
Subtitles English, None English, None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: Criterion / Home Vision

Aspect Ratio:
Original aspect Ratio 1.30:1

Edition Details:

• U.S. theatrical trailer
• 10-page liner notes essay by Richard Schickel

DVD Release Date: September 18th, 2001

Keep Case
Chapters: 20

Release Information:
Studio: Arrow

1.33:1 1080P / 23.976 fps Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 46,396,535,265 bytes

Feature: 29,092,906,368 bytes

Video Bitrate: 37.97 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Edition Details:

Appreciation by Peter Hames, author of The Czechoslovak New Wave (23:36)
Archival interviews with director Ji í Menzel, cinematographer Jaromír Sofr and film historian Jan Luke (8:45)
Closely Observed Films: Michael Brooke explores the six-film collaboration between Menzel and novelist Bohumil Hrabal (47:45)
Reversible sleeve featuring two pieces of artwork from the original release

DVD included!

Blu-ray Release Date: November 16th, 2015
Transparent
Blu-ray case

Chapters: 13

 

 

 

Comments:

NOTE: These Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

 

ADDITION: Arrow - Region FREE - Blu-ray November 15': The new 4K restoration by the Czech National Film Archive (as was Arrow's recent Blu-ray of The Firemen's Ball) looks very film-like in HD. The Arrow 1080P is a shade darker and has beautiful textures. The transfer is dual-layered with a max'ed out bitrate. It may gain a small amount of information on the top and sides - losing a sliver on the bottom. It looks impressive in-motion - another very pleasing HD transfer of a Czech New Wave masterpiece.

 

Arrow go with a linear PCM Audio 1.0 channel mono, original Czech, track at 1152 kbps (24-bit). Likewise, it seems very pleasing to me - flat but exporting the rail yard sounds with minor depth. The score by Jirí Sust and everything sounds quite crisp via the uncompressed transfer. There are optional English subtitles on the region FREE Blu-ray disc.

 

Arrow, as usual, add some great supplements - we get a 24-minute appreciation by Peter Hames, author of The Czechoslovak New Wave and Slovak Cinema: Theme and Tradition (2009). He discusses director Jirí Menzel and many aspects of pre-production offering a personal appreciation of one of the key films that inspired him to start serious research into Czech Cinema - and it's extremely informative - almost like a visual essay. There are archival interviews with director Jirí Menzel, cinematographer Jaromír Sofr and film historian Jan Luke running almost 9-minutes in total. They are taken from Martin Sulik's documentary 25 from the Sixties (2010) exploring important films from the Czechoslovak New Wave. I was especially keen on Closely Observed Films - 48-minutes of Michael Brooke exploring the six-film collaboration between Menzel and novelist Bohumil Hrabal (a key writer for the genre). The package has a reversible sleeve featuring two pieces of artwork from the original release and a 24-page liner notes booklet with contemporary reviews and an essay by Jonathan Owen as well as film credits, notes on the restoration and photos. This is dual-format with a DVD included.

 

So wonderful to revisit these Czech New Wave masterworks in 1080P. Thank you Arrow. Closely Observed Trains is quite adult in its topic venturing into some surprisingly risqué areas - but that only adds to the humor. It's brilliant - a film I could watch yearly for the rest of my days. Our highest recommendation!

***

ON THE DVD: This transfer is pretty good. There are moments when we see some existing damage, but overall the contrast is top-notch and there is some nice film grain showing. The compositions of the images are framed so beautiful I felt like I could have taken captures all day. No digital extras except a sleazy looking US trailer. Competent liner notes and another Criterion in the lower price tier. A rare Czech film from Criterion. A very worthy viewing - good film to own.

Gary W. Tooze


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2) Arrow - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

Screen Captures

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1) Criterion - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

2) Arrow - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Criterion - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

2) Arrow - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Criterion - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

2) Arrow - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Criterion - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

2) Arrow - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Criterion - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

2) Arrow - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


More Blu-ray Captures


 

Box Covers

   

Distribution Criterion Collection - Spine # 131 - Region 0 - NTSC Arrow Video
Region FREE -
Blu-ray




 

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