09-09-2020

OBITUARY: Oscar-winning Czech Director Jiri Menzel Dies Age 82

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Closely Watched Trains by Jiri Menzel Closely Watched Trains by Jiri Menzel

PRAGUE: The Oscar-winning director Jiří Menzel died on 5 September 2020 in Prague, following a long illness. He was 82 years old.

Menzel was an actor, screenwriter and theatre director, but was best-known as the Czech New Wave director of the 1967 Oscar-winning film Closely Watched Trains. It was his feature debut film. He was nominated for the Oscar a second time for his 1985 film My Sweet Little Village

Menzel made headline news for attacking a fellow Czech director when both were vying for the rights to make a film based on the revered book by Bohumil Hrabal, I Served the King of England. Menzel won, and made the film in 2011.  

Menzel, when asked how he managed to work around the censorship that was pervasive during his prime filmmaking years, referred to the “barking white dog.” He would deliberately put something in the script to draw the censors’ attention, to distract them from focusing on other parts of the film.