A tribute to resistance saboteurs that is neither too didactic or sentimental
Based on real life events that occurred between the Normandy Landings and the liberation, La Bataille du Rail was commissioned by the Associations of the Resistance soon after the end of the Second World War. That a war film would be put into production so soon after the end of the war and that it would prove so successful with a public that lived through it suggests a desire to show the extent of the resistance's achievements and the pride of the French.
However, Clément carefully avoids making the film too didactic or sentimental. We can see how the ruthlessness of the occupying forces in rooting out the saboteurs and their anti-Semitism is not overplayed as their portrayal seems appropriate to a modern audience not directly scarred by the events shown. Another way in which he achieves this is through the way the camera stays relatively detached from the action, showing the events almost like a documentary rather than forcing us to identify with any of the characters. It has been said that the cast was made up of unprofessional actors and in some cases real railwaymen. This adds to the realism and creates an effect where no one film star stands out as an obvious "hero", enforcing a message of "ordinary men doing what they had to".
14 of 15 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?