Monday, March 26, 2007

trains in cinema, part 1

g.w. "billy" bitzer,c. 1896

chantal akerman: les rendez-vous d'anna 1978
"anna's world is a fragmented universe of silent train stations and hotel rooms" ica london

american mutoscope & biograph co.: ghost train 1903
a train roars towards the camera, seen in the negative.

ghost train 1903

ken annakin: across the bridge 1957

nimród antal: *kontroll 2003

frederick armitage & a.e. weed: down the hudson 1903
an almost structuralist film with a train and boat racing down the hudson.

hal ashby: the last detail 1973, bound for glory 1976

richard attenborough: gandhi 1982

bruce baillie: castro street 1964

ingmar bergman: the silence 1963
certainly the most artificial train ride of the list, stranger than the opening of fellini's 8 1/2. the opening sequence is a train ride, with an unsettling drone soundtrack, and lights flashing on the boys face, bringing him in and out of the darkness. the rear-screen projection landscape is truly gorgeous as well, and the implied heat (the sweat on the women's figures) is contradicted by the artifice of bergman's visual style.

the silence 1963

bernardo bertolucci: the conformist 1970

phillip borsos: *the grey fox 1983
stagecoach robber is released from prison after 30 years, and starts again to rob trains.

robert bresson: pickpocket 1959
classic subway movie.

martin brest: midnight run 1988

clarence brown: possessed 1931
in the opening scene, joan crawford looks into the windows of a train as it rolls into town and peers into the first class compartments.

neil burger: the illusionist 2006

frank capra: it happened one night 1934, mr. deeds goes to town 1936
(it happened...): clark gable gets slowed down by a passing train.

michael cimino: heaven's gate 1980

shirley clarke: the cool world 1964

rene clement: la bataille du rail 1946

coen brothers: o brother, where art thou? 2000

joseph cornell/ stan brakhage: the wonder ring 1955

michael crichton: *the first great train robbery 1979

jules dassin: the naked city 1948
lots of great subway shots, docu-noir style.

the naked city 1948

delmer daves: 3:10 to yuma 1957
the 3:10 train at the end of the film.

3:10 to yuma 1957

andrew davis: the fugitive 1993 (+ the t.v. show)
quite stimulating train crash in the beginning.

william dieterle: *peking express 1951

julien duvivier: anna karenina 1948

w.s. van dyke: after the thin man 1936

charles and ray eames: toccata for toy trains 1959

clint eastwood: high plains drifter 1973, pale rider 1985, unforgiven 1992

victor erice: the spirit of the beehive 1973
the young girls hang out by the tracks and watch trains go by.

the spirit of the beehive 1973

federico fellini: i vitelloni 1953, 1963

john ford: the iron horse 1924, 3 godfathers 1948, the quiet man 1952, the man who shot liberty valance 1962.
(3 godfathers): beautiful red train, and repetition of "drag her" (meaning get the train going).

3 godfathers 1948 "drag her"

the man who shot liberty valance 1962

john frankenheimer: the train 1964
getting back nazi-stolen art using trains.

william friedkin: the french connection 1971

sam fuller: pickup on south street 1953, house of bamboo 1955
(pickup on....): the great pickpocket scene during the opening scene on the subway, similar to bresson's masterpiece, and a few years earlier.

pickup on south street 1953

ernie gehr: see the miles brothers.

michel gondry: eternal sunshine of the spotless mind 2004

pierre granier-deferre: *le train 1973

fred guiol: *duck soup 1927 (laurel and hardy)

alfred hitchcock: the 39 steps 1935, the lady vanishes 1938, suspicion 1941, saboteur 1942, shadow of a doubt 1943, strangers on a train 1951, north by northwest 1959
hitchcock sure loved filming trains, cars, and buses.
see article in junction and journey: trains and film, moma.

the 39 steps 1935

shadow of a doubt 1943

strangers on a train 1951

h. bruce humberstone: sun valley serenade 1941
dandridge and the nicholas brothers begin singing and dancing in a train station.

john huston: treasure of the sierra madre 1948, the misfits 1961
(treasure of...): great gunfight in the beginning on a train, with humphrey bogart, walter huston and tim holt.
(the misfits): clark gable sees off one of his many gals at the train station.

ken jacobs: georgetown loop 1995/96, the disorient express 1995/96

jim jarmusch: mystery train 1989, dead man 1995
(dead man): opens on a train, photography by robby müller.

dead man 1995

norman jewison: in the heat of the night 1967

wong kar-wai: 2046 2004
"if you want to remember and revisit your past, take the train 2046."

2046 2004

buster keaton: go west 1925

krzysztof kieslowski: *blind chance 1987, la double vie de veronique 1991
(la double vie...): the polish veronika practices her singing on the street train as her boyfriend drives behind on his motorcycle and gazes at her.

andrei konchalovsky: runaway train 1985
akira kurosawa script about 2 escape prisoners on a train, with beautifully abstracted landscape shots.

akira kurosawa: high and low 1963, dô desu ka den 1970
(high and low): train sequences where they are trying to catch the kidnapper.
(dô desu ka den): boy says "dô desu ka den" as he imagines he is operating a train.

fritz lang: das testament des dr. mabuse 1933, the return of frank james 1940, ministry of fear 1944
(the return of...): nice sequence at the end with a train at night. also, the railroad company is hunting henry fonda.

das testament des dr. mabuse 1933

claude lanzmann: *shoah 1985

david lean: brief encounter 1945, the bridge on the river kwai 1957, lawrence of arabia 1962, doctor zhivago 1965
(brief encounter): set around a train station. has a beautiful shot of celia johnson dreaming of her new love, as she stares out the train window.

brief encounter 1945

sergio leone: once upon a time in the west 1968

mervyn leroy: random harvest 1942

richard linklater: before sunrise 1995

before sunrise 1995

sidney lumet: murder on the orient express 1974

lumiere brothers: arrivee du train en gare de la ciotat 1895, panorama de l'arrivee en gare de priccache pris du train, arrivee d'un train a perrache, new york: arrivee d'un train a battery place, brooklyn: fulton street, new york: whitehall street
the lumiere's films are still the most beautiful train films of all.

arrivee du train en gare de la ciotat 1895

arrivee d'un train a perrache, new york: arrivee d'un train a battery place

david lynch: the elephant man 1980

adrian lyne: jacob's ladder 1990

alexander mackendrick: the ladykillers 1955

terrence malick: days of heaven 1978

louis malle: *zazie dans le métro 1960, au revoir, les enfants 1987

joseph l. mankiewicz: people will talk 1951
cary grant obsessed with playing with his toy trains

thomas mccarthy: *the station agent 2003

jonas mekas: friday march. 16th, 2007 i take helsinki-tampere train. not much snow 2007
snowy landscape seen from a train.

friday march. 16th, 2007 i take helsinki-tampere train. not much snow 2007

jean-pierre melville: le samouraï 1967, le cercle rouge 1970, un flic 1972
(le samaurai): jef costello (alain delon) gets shot on a pedestrian bridge over train tracks with the sound of passing trains, and later uses the paris metro to elude the police.

le samouraï 1967

le cercle rouge 1970

jean michelson & m.g. macpherson: "oil" a symphony in motion 1933
a story of oil and technology, opens with train zooming past and going into soft focus.

the miles brothers: a trip down market street 1906
+ernie gehr: eureka 1974
(eureka): slows down and beautifies a trip down market street 1906.

vincente minnelli: meet me in st. louis 1944

f.w. murnau: sunrise: a song of two humans 1927

james neilson: night passage 1957

yasujiro ozu: a story of floating weeds 1934, there was a father 1942, late spring 1949, early summer 1951, tokyo story 1953, early spring 1956, equinox flower 1958, floating weeds 1959
(early summer): brief but beautiful, also toy trains for the kids.
(late spring): nice transit sequence where ozu really dwells on the sounds and visual rhythms of train travel.

"almost all his films include scenes with trains, and in many of them the final sequence is either in or near a train. the reason... is the train remains a vehicle of mystery and change. the mournful sound of a train in the distance, the idea of all those people being carried away to begin life anew elsewhere, the longing or nostalgia for travel".
donald richie

late spring 1949

edwin s. porter: the great train robbery 1903

gerald potterton: *the railrodder 1965
1965 short comedy film released by the national film board of canada and starring buster keaton in one of his final film roles (it was also his final silent film insomuch as the film contains no dialogue).

michael powell & emeric pressburger: 49th parallel 1941, i know where i'm going 1945, the red shoes 1948
(i know...): the beautiful train en route to the island of killoran.
(49th parallel): the strange out-door train ride the three nazi's take and the final entrapment on the train to america with raymond massey.

49th parallel 1941

satyajit ray: pather panchali 1955

jurgen reble: chicago 1996
reble shot film from a train in chicago and "worked on the material using a bleaching bath", thomas koner did the sound.

carol reed: night train to munich 1940

jean renoir: la bete humaine 1938
jean gabin as train driver/murderer.

la bete humaine 1938

walter ruttmann: berlin, symphony of a city 1927

john sayles: matewan 1987

joseph sargent: the taking of pelham one two three 1974
mostly shot in the nyc subway.

the taking of pelham one two three 1974

john schlesinger: darling 1965
not a film or director i like much, but the train scene with dirk bogarde is quite good, especially with the cigarette continuity mistake.

charles schram: *arrivée d'un train à huy 1897

martin scorsese: boxcar bertha 1972

george b. seitz: danger lights 1930, life begins for andy hardy 1941, andy hardy's double life 1942
(danger lights): very long and beautiful train sequences in this film, especially at the end. amazing sound as well.

vittorio de sica: the children are watching us 1947, umberto d. 1952, stazione termini / indiscretion of an american wife 1953
(the children are...): cuckoldry interspersed with trains and train travel.

the children are watching us 1947

umberto d. 1952

don siegel: two mules for sister sara 1970, dirty harry 1971
(dirty harry): clint eastwood gets directed by the serial killer on san francisco's muni.

ralph steiner, willard van dyke and henwar rodakiewicz: the city 1939

josef von sternberg: shanghai express 1932

john sturges: bad day at black rock 1954, *last train from gun hill 1959

bad day at black rock 1954

last train from gun hill 1959

preston sturges: the lady eve 1941, sullivan's travels 1941, the palm beach story 1942, hail the conquering hero 1944
(sullivan's travels): having no money, joel mccrea and veronica lake use freight trains for transit.

the lady eve 1941

sullivan's travels 1941

hail the conquering hero 1944

andrei tarkovsky: stalker 1979
trains are heard all through the first scene (they are not visible though), then we see the 3 characters using a trolley to get into the "zone". the trolley's aural rythym is beautifully transfixing.

stalker 1979

guillermo del toro: *mimic 1997

jacques tourneur: *days of glory 1944, night of the demon 1957
(night of the demon): final showdown on the train.

lars von trier: zentropa 1991, dancer in the dark 2000
(dancer in the dark): the lovely sequence with bjork and peter stormare (in place of thom yorke) dueting on the train, filmed simultaneously with "the hundred eyes of lars von trier" (100 digital cameras).

dancer in the dark

frank tuttle: this gun for hire 1942

w. s. van dyke: love on the run 1936
joan crawford and clark gable go to nice on a train.

king vidor: the crowd 1928, duel in the sun 1946, man without a star 1955
(man without a star): opens with kurk douglas hitching a ride on a train.

jean vigo: zéro de conduite: jeunes diables au collège 1933

william wellman: *buffalo bill 1944

wim wenders: the american friend 1977, paris, texas 1984

billy wilder: double indemnity 1944, some like it hot 1959

-junction and journey: trains and film, moma.
-the railway journey: the industrialization and perception of time and space, by wolfgang schivelbusch, univ. of california press.
-lars von trier, by jack stevenson, bfi.
-trier on von trier, faber and faber.
-ozu, by donald richie, univ. of california press.
-darren olmond: journey time, steidl (exhibition catalogue).
"the focus of journey time is a trilogy of films devoted to remarkable trains. schwebebahn (1995) was shot in germany, upside-down on the first monorail. running in slow-motion, disorienting and defamiliarising, it conveys a sense of modernity’s aspirations being inverted in an era where much twentieth-century idealism now seems bankrupt. geisterbahn (1997) was filmed in vienna on an old-fashioned ghost train. shot in an expressionistic, shadowy style and punctuated by skulls, the journey becomes a gothic metaphor for mortal life. the third and final part of the trilogy was shot in 2006 on a hugely ambitious railway line built by the chinese government, leaving from beijing and stretching 1,200km into lhasa, striking deep into tibet." steidl site.

also of note, music-wise:
- herbert distel - die reise - hat art - 1987
- herbert distel - la stazione - hat art - 1990
- herbert distel - soundtrack - 2004
-steve reich: different trains, 1988.
-bill fontana: sound lines, 2005.

* indicates films i haven't seen.

elettrotreno etr200 train, 1936 by italian architect giuseppe pagano

for my list of essential films, go here.

wikipedia, rail transport in fiction
wikipedia, rail photography
train and stations in the movies
o. winston link
jimmie rodgers
johnny cash


girish said...

A great, epic post!

And a wonderful blog. I look forward to following it.

woolgathersome said...

Epic, indeed! 3:10 to Yuma looks beautiful -- I've not seen it...

shahn said...

i think subways are a whole equally beautiful subset, i'm glad you included them.

the art of memory said...

girish, hadn't seen your blog, very nice indeed.

3:10 was preety good, strange pace, and low-key music, the scene at the end (with the train) was great, lots of smoke and rain.

its funny, the moma book doesn't include subways, which seems bizarre. then what do you do with street cars?

Michael Guillen said...

Memory, I'm so glad Girish sent me over to take a looksee. What a killer post!! And you're an East Bay neighbor no less! I'm adding you to my Bay Area blogroll.

Tuwa said...

Kudos for an impressive and thorough post.

the art of memory said...

thanks, great paris photos.
and tuwa, what film is that still from?
stairs in films is cool.
i was thinging of doing one on donkeys in film as well, then maybe livestock, then boats, the list goes on.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful list; more ruminative and atmospheric than cheaply sexual in the way that many filmmakers (especially Hitchcock) often depicted trains in film.

One of my favorite films ever is a 19 minute short called Cyclo(Xích-lô) by M. Trinh Nguyen. This Vietnamese film was her first effort, and I've never seen anything else by her. Such a brilliantly filmed evocation of memory, identity and nostalgia; as direct as a personal memory, and unlike anything else I've ever seen, except in pieces. (Think Maborosi, some Michel Gondry [esp Eternal Sunshine] or maybe moments in Karel Zeman's work)
Anyhow, thanks for the great post!

the art of memory said...

thank you very much, i am working on part 2 now, will be up in a couple months i hope.

Anonymous said...

Wow, this is very beautiful!

This is also one of the reasons why I want to use more pictures to talk about film and less words. Never understimate the power of the visual image.

the art of memory said...

thank you,
words and lists are good, but i always respond more to images.

C. said...

This is excellent! Magnificent work. And thanks for your kind words.


Ricardo said...

This is amazing work. I stumbled on your page because I am currently doing research into the topic for my senior thesis. I really can't get over the sheer quantity of examples.

the art of memory said...

thank you sirs,
half way done with the current one,

Aaron Billings said...

Wonderful post, trains are so majestic and frightening. I wonder if you have seen 'Paranoid Park' by Gus Van Sant in which a man gets cut in half by a train. Also 'Europa' by Lars Von Trier is set almost entirely on trains with some terrifically dark images of trains crossing large bridges and traveling in tunnels.

This is a really lovely blog by the way and I hope to keep reading it, I'm just getting into minimalist film.

the art of memory said...

just do a search for "trains" will see both films