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 production faced dangers not only from the unpredictable elements but also censorship and studio pressure. It was released without an advertising campaign and was eventually banned in Prague despite drawing large audiences. Instead of a snowy idyll Chytilová, whose father owned a train station pub, produced a work replete with ambiguous anti-regime rhetoric. Not only the hero Honza Dostál but several other characters found themselves in ‘calamitous’ life situations that are revealed as a societal problems 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.
DAFilms.com is powered by Doc Alliance, a creative partnership of 7 key European documentary film festivals. Our aim is to advance the documentary genre, support its diversity and promote quality creative documentary films.