Closely Watched Trains is a Czech New wave film set in Czechoslovakia during the Nazi occupation in World War II. It revolves around the life and coming of age of Milos, a train officer.
The major theme of the movie is the way it satirizes Soviet Russia during this historical time period, which is unconventional for a movie set in World War II. Other themes emerge as well, such as sexuality (or the repression of sexuality), gender roles and masculinity.
There was also a scene that stuck out to me at the beginning of the movie, where Milos’ mother seems to crown him with his conductors’ hat, maybe signifying the important role that Milos being a train officer plays at the end of the film.
I also thought it was interesting that the movie did not demonize the Germans, as is usually the case with films set in World War II. The Germans are portrayed as benevolent in two scenes; the first is the portrayal of the German soldiers with the nurses, which demonstrates the loneliness of war. The second scene is when the Germans capture Milos, only to let him go after seeing his attempt at suicide.
As mentioned in class, the film is a masterpiece due to its subversive use of metaphor. The young Milos is a symbolic representation of the whole Czech state. He is, to put it lightly, “socially retarded.” He’s sexually repressed, juvenile, awkward, and shows a disinterest towards work. The metaphorical message is that Soviet Russia and the hand of communism never let anyone grow to full maturity, and that the Czech state was suffering from this adolescence. This movie is a demonstration of the ways in which sexuality can be transformed into a political message.
Entry 4: September 23d, 2011: My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done?
Directed by Werner Herzog and produced by David Lynch
This movie was based off a true story, but Herzog apparently wanted to stray from the actual facts of the case and focus more on the madness of the murderer. I really think he achieved what he set out to do. The film begins with a murder investigation. A woman is found dead in her neighbour’s house, presumably killed by her son, Brad McCullum. Once the police arrive on the scene, they find Brad locked up in his home and claiming that he has two hostages. The rest of the movie revolves around this scenario and the various flashbacks of Brad’s life told by his fiancé and his theatre director friend. The movie ends with him finally surrendering and letting go of the two hostages, his pet flamingos (or what he refers to as his “eagles in drag”).
Brad is depicted as a very deranged man. It is mentioned that he was depressed, which may have had something to do with his odd behaviour. When asked what made him this way or why he would kill his mother, the only thing his fiancé and friend could say is that he had gone on an excursion to Peru, and came back a changed man. He also lived alone with his mother for a relatively long time, and she seemed to coddle him, even as a grown...