Czech director Jiri Menzel's Closely Watched Trains (Ostre sledovane vlaky) was the recipient of the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 1967. In the story, based on Bohumil Hrabal's novel of the same name, Vaclav Neckar plays a Czech railroad worker during the Nazi occupation. He undergoes several philosophical changes as he becomes attracted to the Czech underground. Determining at last that his own existence hardly matters in the scheme of things, Neckar volunteers for a suicide mission. Ordered by the Czech Communist government to return his Oscar, Menzel refused, opting instead to make a "repentance" film which sang the praises of collectivism. This second film has long since been forgotten, while Closely Watched Trains remains on record as one of the biggest financial successes of the Eastern European Cinema.
by Hal Erickson synopsis