7.7/10
8,292
43 user 28 critic

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.

Director:

Radu Mihaileanu

Writers:

Radu Mihaileanu, Moni Ovadia (italian version)
10 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Lionel Abelanski ... Shlomo
Rufus ... Mordechai
Clément Harari Clément Harari ... The Rabbi
Michel Muller ... Yossi
Agathe de La Fontaine 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
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Storyline

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

Taglines:

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

Genres:

Comedy | Drama | War

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Language:

French | German

Release Date:

16 September 1998 (France) See more »

Also Known As:

Train of Life See more »

Filming Locations:

Romania See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$21,038, 7 November 1999, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$154,790, 28 November 1999
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby SR

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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 »

Connections

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

Soundtracks

Cine iubeste si lasa
Written by Maria Tanase
See more »

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User Reviews

Real Jewish humour!
25 July 2001 | by Zen BonesSee all my reviews

This film is often compared to LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL, and with good reason. They are both comedies that take on the treacherously delicate subject of the Holocaust. Also, Benigni turned down the opportunity to make this film and then "borrowed" the idea of a Holocaust comedy to make his film. Which is fine with me because in his hands, the film would have sunk into offensive silliness. Benigni is Italian, which means he is great at Italian humour. But he hasn't an idea as to what real Jewish humour is like. This film is a quintessentially Jewish film. It is about the old world Jewish experience that can only be understood and articulated by a Jew with old world roots. Unfortunately, much of the old world Jewish lifestyle and humour has been lost to recent generations. To some viewers, the characters in this film may seem like characters out of FIDDLER ON THE ROOF. But despite the broad characterizations for the benefit of Jewish humour, the characters here are all quite human and honest. Jewish humour by the way, depends on flagrant exaggeration and waggish expression. The film even uses a great analogy of this when it explains that Yiddish is basically German with a sense of humour. Take away the exaggerated humour, and you've got basic German.

The story is about the inhabitants of a French shtetl (Jewish village) who decide to deport themselves to Palestine before the Nazis come and deport them to concentration camps. They buy a train, tailor a few dozen Nazi uniforms and flee across the continent, sidestepping real Nazis and French resistance fighters who think that the train of Jews is a Nazi train. There is a subplot involving an outbreak of communism among some of the Jews on the train that gets a little tired. But then that does live up to the film's title. This train of life is a microcosm of society, with all of its pettiness and short-sightedness.

This is a beautiful film that is much funnier and bittersweet than LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL without the unnecessary manipulations to pull on our heartstrings. For those who want to taste the real Jewish experience, I recommend this highly!

ADDENDUM: There are many who feel that it is sacrilege to make any type of comedy about the Jewish experience during WWll. To make light of suffering or to drastically bend or cover up the truth for the sake of "entertainment", is sacrilege. But this film does not do any of those things. It retains the humour and the dignity of a culture that was almost made extinct. It provides us with a great tribute to the spirit and perseverance of those people.


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