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The opinions expressed on this page are mine alone. Any similarities to the views of my employer are completely coincidental.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Caught on a Train

Watched Poliakoff's Caught on a Train last night and it was like finding a time capsule. I'd seen it when it first came out and remember being captivated, but I couldn't remember exactly when that was. Seeing it again took me right back to the cusp of the eighties - it was first shown  on the 31st October 1980. I must have watched it on my first weekend home from university, full of excitement about the big-wide world that was opening up. Right movie, right time. At 18 living free from parental control in a big city you are acutely aware of  cultural, social and sexual collisions. Every day is an adventure and you never know who you are going to meet or wind up drinking with  to the wee small hours. The mise-en-scene of a train journey with all that implies about claustrophobia, xenophobia, intimacy, suppressed and not so suppressed violence and border crossing is  absolutely brilliant and is  cunningly  contrasted with the dreamlike night-time scenes set in Frankfurt. You travel through Germany in The Lady Vanishes style hysteria and all that you see out of the window are the smoking chimney's of  factories. In Frankfurt you get the junkies sleeping rough under the wanted posters for Baade Meinhof terrorists and the chilly emptiness of the  Opera Cafe with the nightmarish strains of Lulu piped through the PA system. I can think of few films which capture the feel of a particular moment of European history  quite so well. Also brilliantly handled are the subtle shifts in the power relations and sympathies between the three main players. Old imperial Europe and  new imperial America meet the Brit abroad.

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