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Train of Life (1998)

Train de vie (original title)
In 1941, the inhabitants of a small Jewish village in Central Europe organize a fake deportation train so that they can escape the Nazis and flee to Palestine.


Radu Mihaileanu
10 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Lionel Abelanski ... Shlomo
Rufus ... Mordechai
Clément Harari Clément Harari ... The Rabbi
Michel Muller ... Yossi
Agathe de La Fontaine ... Esther
Johan Leysen ... Schmecht
Bruno Abraham-Kremer Bruno Abraham-Kremer ... Yankele
Marie-José Nat ... Sura
Gad Elmaleh ... Manzatou
Serge Kribus Serge Kribus ... Schtroul
Michel Israël Michel Israël ... Sage 3 (as Michel Israel)
Rodica Sanda Tutuianu Rodica Sanda Tutuianu ... Golda
Sanda Toma Sanda Toma ... Mere de Yossi
Zwi Kanar Zwi Kanar ... Lilenfeld
Razvan Vasilescu ... The Tzigan Colonel


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 <spillo@maya.dei.unipd.it>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Más intensa que La vida es bella... (Mexico)


Comedy | Drama | War

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for some sexuality and nudity | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


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 »


References To Be or Not to Be (1942) See more »


Cine iubeste si lasa
Written by Maria Tanase
See more »

User Reviews

Marvelous fable plenty of lively comedy , good feeling and Jewish customs
23 November 2009 | by ma-cortesSee all my reviews

The village's dumb named Scholomo(Abelanski) comes running and shouting that the Jews from near little towns are being deported towards unknown locations. That same night the Jewish council of wise men (presided by Clement Harari) is reunited to find a manner to save the villagers. They determine that people will be shielded from the horrors around them and somehow finds a way to do it. Then Scholome proposes an original idea, organize a false deportation train so which they can flee the Nazis passing the Russian frontier and escape to Palestine. Some Jewish are dressed in German uniforms(Rufus) and others posing as fake prisoners. Their efforts sometimes are pure fantasy , though with ruse they pull off the feat to keep the faith on their dreams.

This is a story about love, war and sacrifice , well starred and directed. Extraordinary movie with comedy upon an irrepressible group who refuses to ever give in to adversity and some moment is spoken in Yiddish and German language with subtitles. A beguiling and unique fable that celebrates the human spirit and the freedom. This amusing picture contains some of ¨Fiddler on the roof¨(Norman Jewison,1971), including violin performance , ¨Life is beautiful¨ (Roberto Benigni ,1997) and ¨The last train¨(Joseph Vilsmaier, 2006). Excellent performances by all cast, as Harari as veteran rabbi trying to preserve Jewish heritage against growing odds, Rufus as Jew posing as Nazi officer, Michel Muller as Jewish infected with the fast-spreading germ of communism, and Agatha La Fontaine as gorgeous youngster, among them. Emotive and hearty score melodically performed by Goran Bregovic, Emir Kusturica's usual. Director Radu Mihaileanu tirelessly maintains the humorous ingenuity and shapes simultaneously hilarious and haunting comedy. Rating : Better than average. Well worth watching.

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French | German

Release Date:

16 September 1998 (France) See more »

Also Known As:

Train of Life See more »

Filming Locations:

Romania See more »


Box Office

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby SR



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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