Night Train Murders Review
The FilmGreat cinema can change the way we see things by providing a compelling alternative vision of the world we inhabit. Quite often film makers have set out to change the audience's worldview by setting up a nice model of the world they believe they live in, only to have it crash around them. Many have shown that comfortable bourgeois, well adjusted lives can be torn apart by the incursion of the less well-mannered underclass, and this has inspired directors as great as Bergman, but it has also permitted those more given to reactionary motives to make arguably neo-fascist pieces. For the reactionary artist such subject matter allows you to stress the need for special measures to hold society together and for the abandonment of liberal niceties in the war on what ever emotive cause you have identified.
Recent debates between contenders for the Republican nomination for US president involved a bidding war of jingoism and anti-liberal sentiment. Hillary Clinton's latest advert involves the looming spectre of social disaster to scare voters into demanding a strong president, and our British politicians are engaged in one-upmanship to stop immigration, fight crime and guarantee homeland security. The global truth seems to be that in times of danger and chaos, the good people who make up our planet are easy prey to those wanting to preech hate and provoke resentment so that we are won over by their seeming strength because of our fear. The rise of Hitler in Germany, the appointment of Mussolini as prime minster in Italy, and the recent justifications for invasion in the Middle East - all came about because all good people felt afraid and chose a supposed lesser evil over a spiral of social unrest.
The train that carries the girls away from Munich is filled with metaphor and microcosm. A compartment is filled with former German soldiers celebrating a re-union and unable to stifle a "Heil Hitler" when taunted by the yobs. Priests, young and old, have their own seats with an older monsignor winking at his young companions. A family man stalks the train indulging his voyeurism, and the elegant lady gets scientists and bourgeois companions to listen to her ideas for discipline in society and authoritarian control.
As a thesis and a description of these kind of dialectics, Night Train Murders is extremely successful. Given the desire in the seventies for similar films inspired from the reactionary perspective, Lado's work is a crucial antidote and reminder of where those neo-fascist ideas lead. Where a film like Deathwish may seem to re-affirm a patriarch's right to seek revenge, it also inspires the very vigilanteeism that leads to the dialectics described above. Night Train Murders is brutal and unrelenting, but its political analysis is subtle and well conceived, and in the difficult times we live it serves an important cautionary purpose for those seduced by "special measures".
The DiscThere is an existing fine release of this film available from Blue Underground which Michael reviewed here some time ago and this Shameless release boasts far less extras than that disc. This is a single layer release, and again Shameless have provided a reversible sleeve which allows you the jokey and misplaced "Whore aboard" art or a much more sober cover concentrating on Enrico Maria Salerno. The six Shameless trailers include the forthcoming Frightened Woman and My Dear Killer.
I have merged a frame of the BU disc with this latest release for comparison below, the BU image is on the left with the new release on the right hand side of the frame.
SummaryA real gem of transgressive film making is now available to subvert the UK public and that is a great thing. The Shameless disc can't compare with the BU release but for anyone new to the film this is a very cheap and worthwhile trip to take.
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