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Central Europe, WWII. The village fool of a small Jewish community warns the townsfolk that the Nazis are coming, and advises them to build a fake deportation train to cross the Russian border and get to Palestine. Some Jews are dressed up with German uniforms, and soon they start getting strange ideas about how it feels to be a Nazi; others are infected with the fast-spreading germ of communism. Meanwhile, the Russian border gets closer and closer... Written by
The footage of the train exterior and interior was actually second unit footage filmed for what was supposed to have been the Puppet Wars mini-trilogy, spun-off from the popular DTV horror series Puppet Master. See more »
There's quite a bit going on in "Train of Life" but it's worth following. The premise is that a shtetl (Jewish community) fears it will be deported to a World War II concentration camp. The village fool, Shlomo, comes up with the idea to purchase a locomotive, train some of the villagers to talk/act/dress like Nazis and head for Palestine in hopes they can fool the real Nazis.
Okay, the premise is far fetched. That's a given. But for this film, it works. The close-knit village buys into the plan and sets to work creating the ruse. Shlomo rises about his "village idiot" persona and finds new worth. The fake Nazi commander, Mordechai, begins to take his role a little too literally. There's a subplot about some of the young men converting to Communism. And a small band of resistance workers who try to blow up the train.
But the star of this film is not one person, it is the village. They've banded together to survive, which isn't lost amid the humor. There's true fear and hope. Some may feel the villagers are made fun of and lampooned, but there's a healthy respect for the Jewish customs and family closeness in this film. Watch the scene where the villagers prepare for the Sabbath during their journey and you'll see what I mean.
Too many films to count have focused on the reality of the Holocaust. There's no deny that it was a horrific event that should never be forgotten. This film does not desecrate or abandon that truth. It simply adds a new dimension worth exploring.
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