Train of Life

MPAA Rating: R

Entertainment: +2 1/2

Content: -2

TRAIN OF LIFE is definitely not your typical film about the Jewish Holocaust during World War II. Mindful of the horror of the time but framed within the uniqueness of Jewish humor, this French film with English subtitles tells a modern fairy tale of hope and determination in the face of imminent Nazi occupation. In 1941, an Eastern European village hears that the Nazis are threateningly close and their tiny village sure to be deported to concentration camps. The village wise men gather to formulate a plan, but Shlomo, the so called village idiot (Lionel Abelanski), comes up with the brilliant idea of buying a train, forging documents, and deporting themselves to freedom. The train would be disguised and some of the Jews would act as Nazi soldiers. As the train is bought and refurbished, car by car, the anticipation builds and the village unites in hope. Their adventure to the Russian border is fraught with suspense, humor, theological debates, and a confusion of roles. As villagers playing Germans act with frightening authority, some of the Jews revolt. This fictional story, set within a very real tragedy in human history, achieves real levity alongside a spirit of sober reflection.

Given the grim reality of its dark historical setting, its strange calling this film delightful. But delightful it is. The film has won over 10 international awards and rightfully so. Like the Academy Award-winning LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL, desires for life and hope stand in stark contrast to the reality of death and oppression. Shlomos fairytale - he is the narrator - seems like a childs daydream as he sits in a stuffy classroom on a gorgeous spring day. As in all good daydreams, the dreamer is eventually startled back to dreary reality. But the lingering hope of real beauty and freedom lives beyond the dream, giving meaning in the dreariest of circumstances. This is such a movie - a daydream which reminds one of joyous life within the shadow of death. Its funny, insightful, charming, sobering and extremely unique. The negative acceptability rating is regrettable, given the films meaningful premise and message. But one f-word and three scenes of gratuitous nudity, one of women bathing and two related to premarital sexual activity, carry TRAIN OF LIFE in an undesirable direction.

Preview Reviewer: Cliff McNeely
Paramount Classics

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: Few (1) times Moderate

Obscene Language: Several (4) times - F-word 1, s-word 2, other 1

Profanity: Many (3) times - Exclamatory (My G)

Violence: Several times moderate (village burned, gun threats, scuffles among Jews)

Sex: Once (woman on top of man with motions and rear female nudity)

Nudity: Few times (female breast nudity in common bathhouse, woman rips shirt open for man, female rear nudity during intercourse); Near Nudity: Few times (Gypsy women scantily dressed)

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: Suggestive Dialogue/Action: Few times (girl does not want to die a virgin, couple rolling around on ground with womans breasts exposed, Gypsy woman seduces Jewish man)

Drugs: Few times (alcohol/wine)

Other: Fictional story set during Nazi occupation of Eastern Europe, reverence for Jewish faith, unique look at the beauty of life in the face of death

Running Time: 102 minutes
Intended Audience: Adults

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