Friday, October 30, 2015

Murder on the Orient Express (1974).....Trains

One of the unputdownable films I have seen. One of it's attractions is the cinematography of a thirties steam locomotive in all it's moods as it wends across Europe. It brings to mind other train sequences in films. A train is an image of power, irreversible change, romance and tragedy. A favorite has been Dr Zhivago's train shooting through the snows of Siberia in the 1900s. There is The Bridge on the Kwai, as the armoured train unloads its baggage of prisoners. Casablanca has a scene of parting on a rainy station during WW2, as romantic, doomed and rending as they come. One can't forget the suicide scene in the 1935 Garbo version of Karenina, as the train silently dissapears into the beyond after the last flicker of Anna's life. Schindler's List has some magnificent sequences. On Vincent Canby suggestion I'm looking forward to The Lady Vanishes. Trains stand for doom, rebirth, change. A steaming engine scores in visual beauty with its billows of smoke and steam and shovelled coal. Journeys used to take a long time and places too had a romance which is gone with abbreviated travel. A steam engine is a living breathing animal.