As with Chytilová’s other work, the story of a young train driver was the result of compromises the director had won in defiance of Barrandov’s dramaturges. The studio had offered her the project as there was little interest in the material in view of the tough winter exterior shoot. The director rewrote Josef Šilhavý’s screenplay, turning a “consolidation” story of university students finding a new meaning of life among railway workers into a bitterly amusing parable about contemporary Czechoslovakia. This meant the film’s genesis faced dangers not only from the unpredictable elements but also censorship and pressure. It was released without an advertising campaign and was eventually banned in Prague after drawing large audiences. Instead of a snowy idyll Chytilová, whose father owned a train station pub, produced an authentic work filled with ambiguous anti-regime “catchphrases”. Not only the hero Honza Dostál but several other characters found themselves in “calamitous” life situations that are revealed as a common – societal – problem in the final scene in a snow-covered train. Cinematographer Ivan Šlapeta and editor Jiří Brožek made a huge contribution to the film’s edgy, provocatively unpolished form.
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