DIRECTOR: LARS VON TRIER
COUNTRY: Northern European 1992
CINEMATOGRAPHY: Henning Bendtsen
CAST: Jean-Marc Bare, Barbara Sukowa, Udo Kier
NARRATION BY: Max Von Sydow
SUPER FEATURES: It's well written.
This film has a hypnotic quality to it. I have to admit that I wasn't really enthused about it, until half way into the film
when things get complicated, and the film begins cooking, and its characters are all in trouble.
With a narration by Max Von Sydow, whose voice leads the film into its various areas, including the changes, when the things are getting worse (except the ending) this is the story of a railroad in Germany which had been somewhat dedicated for an upper class right after the World War II. But as was required by the allies, these divisions were mostly illegal, and many groups worked to destroy these upper class strongholds. And the lead character in the role falls into it, through his father, who has been a very well qualified conductor of one of the runs of this train. The son does everything well, but he still has to undergo an examination.
In between, he meets a woman, who takes a liking to him, but is in effect a 'werewolf', the word that was used to describe those who were still fighting in the underground. While their aim was justified, the means were not, and many paid dearly with their lives because of these situations. And in the case of the luckless conductor, the woman he has married turns out to be a werewolf, and even goes so far as to explain herself in the end as a person who can't help it. And finally, the young conductor decides to follow through on his entrapment, his wife is being 'held' by other werewolves until he detonates a boom which will destroy a bridge and plunge part of the train into the river below. And this also costs him his life.
While not a pleasant film, in many ways, these tales of what was left of World War II is just as bad as the real thing itself, it has one thing going for it, which makes it work. The narration. The narrator, is the inner mind of the conductor, who basically tells him how to think and see things. And he is capable of 'changing' the scenery with the usual hypnotic count. And the time he can not change it is in the end, when the young conductor also falls with the train into the river, and is trapped in one compartment, which happens to have an iron grid on the window.
Showing all the helplessness, with which many anti-establishment groups worked in Europe, of the public in general (the train master designer was a Nazi sympathizer, but his expertise was of utmost importance to the rebuilding plans -- and the woman was his daughter) this film delivers a thread which is not totally visible today (time heals some wounds) but shows on the brows of many elderly people. The country needed some rebuilding, and because of the government policies of the times (for some 20 years) the only qualified people that knew how to do the technical work, were all sympathizers of the regime which had just been destroyed. And this may have caused a great deal of problems and distress. This is what the film is really about. The elder train conductor is only interested in the beauty, and proper working condition, of the thing he loves the most. The Train. And he pulls many strings to get it all working. But the engineer who has to help rebuild the train is not happy with himself, or his crimes (so it seems)
and despite the well meaning conductor, he finally figures out a way to do himself in.
WHILE A GOOD FILM, THE SITUATION AND STORY IS NOT FUN.
SERIOUS FILM. VERY WELL DONE. THOUGHT
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