Closely Watched Trains: A Noteworthy Film

         The music of a film can make or break the whole experience of the film. The music in this Closely Watched Trains, directed in 1967 by Jiri Menzel, is quite good but does not really seem to go with the story. I thought that the music would be more ethnic or some somber peasant stuff. But, instead the music is lively and bright, which makes it so out of context to the subject matter of this film. This had the effect of completely changing the tone of the film. I later found out the music was the Overture to Richard Wagner’s early opera, Rienzi. The music was Hitler’s favorite, which is probably why it was used in the movie when the Nazis showed up.

         For example, can you imagine Star Wars of 1977’s without the musical score? Of course not, the music of a movie sets the tone and the feeling of the film. The music can change the entire emotional context of what is being viewed. Picking the right music for the exact right moment of the film can be difficult. Perhaps this is why there are Golden Globes and Oscars for best composers each year in films. This particular film Closely Watched Trains or Ostre sledované vlaky won best foreign film Oscar in 1966 the year; it was made. I can see why it received the award is still relevant and applicable today and well worth watching.

         The music in this film is by Jiri Sust, but he is not credited in the film. He had a long career of over seventy-one films spanning from the 1940’s through 1994. He died in 1995, so he worked right up until the very end. I am unsure how many of them won awards, but he was a man who was very good at his job.

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