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  • I was disappointed recently as I read poor reviews of one of the best films I've ever seen. I saw this film twice at the Sundance Film Festival and was impressed and enjoyed the sensitive and comedic depiction of WW2 and populations facing war, however, you must stay to the very end, and let the final scene sink in to get the complete effect. This is not a heartwarming story of the holocaust, but a fantasy that thrusts the viewer back into reality and the horrors of the holocaust with a final shot that is one of the most heartwrenching and shocking scenes I've seen. Don't compare it with "Life is Beautiful"- many have done this and they are not similar. This film deserves better.
  • rps-221 March 2001
    This is a magnificent film. Like "Life Is Beautiful" it manages to be a comedy about the Holocaust but also a sensitive and thoughtful study of it. It's beautifully filmed, wonderfully acted, superbly directed. I can't think of a film I've seen this year that is more entertaining and more thought provoking. It's a comedy, it's a fantasy, it's a musical, it's a drama, it's a romance, it's an allegory and, yes, it's a tragedy. It's also wonderfully European with none of the predictable Hollywood cliches but with fascinating symbolism and revealing studies of human dynamics. But not the least artsey-dartsey. And how I'm tempted to give away the ending. But no! I wouldn't want anyone to miss that cinematic fist in the gut. Wow!!! The whole hour and a half is crystalized in a five second closeup. You won't be prepared for it! This is one of the few films I've ever given a ten!
  • 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.
  • carloi8 March 2001
    Rarely does one has the pleasure of watching a movie that combines

    melancholy, drama, humor and insight into the human heart as this one does. A superb cast does honor to a powerful script. All of those who loved Roberto

    Benigni's "Life is beautiful" will be pleased to know that this film treats the same general subject with at least as much humor and sensitivity, but with more depth. I was not familiar with either the director or any of the actors. I just hope we will see more from them, as I can't praise this work enough.
  • Quote: "Mordechai: So Shlomo, have you ever been in love? Slomo: No!!! That would be madness!!"

    OK, so there have been too many movies about the Holocaust and there are a lot of people "complaining" about that, but this is not necessary such a movie. It is more like one of the stories written by Isaac Bashevis Singer, and full of the same humor and sadness and irony... it may even be called a comedy, a black Balcanic humor, if people won't be offended by the association comedy - Holocaust... It is somehow the same way that "Life is beautiful" is a comedy, and the subjects are contiguous... It is a shame that the movie does not have an English subtitle (or at least one that I could find) but for the French speaker it is wonderful to watch in its original language. But try to find it. Give it a chance, even just because it comes mainly from Romania, and you are curious what can these guys do (check out the "Awards" section). And I promise you you'll be impressed. Or at least touched.
  • It's amazing how many people seem to be complaining about the unrealism of this film. Given that anyone with two brain cells to rub together can see that the film is not trying to be realistic from scene 1 onwards, the question is not whether the film tried to be realistic and failed, but whether a film about the Holocaust must try to be realistic to be any good.

    The trouble is that unless as part of the performance the entire audience is deported in cattle-trucks, slowly starved, and then gassed, it is rather difficult to see how any film can be realistic about the Holocaust. So, if there are to be movies about the Holocaust at all, or if they are to do much beyond telling us that the Holocaust was ghastly (we knew that, didn't we?)

    they have to give up on trying to be realistic, and try to look at the Holocaust in an indirect way. This is where I think "Train de Vie" succeeds, for example by the deliberate parallels between the society inside the train, and the society that helped caused the Holocaust. I could list them at length, but if you've seen the movie and didn't notice them, you won't be convinced by anything I say, and if you haven't seen the movie, I'd rather leave you the pleasure of discovering them for yourself.

    I never actually thought of the film's relation to "Life is Beautiful" until reading the IMDB comments, after I'd seen both films. Well it's very hard to compare the two films, but I don't think "Train de Vie" needs to be ashamed of the comparison. True, Roberto Benigni does not star in it, and that is a heavy handicap for any film. On the other hand I think I like the exuberant un-reality of "Train de Vie" better. After all the portrayal of the Holocaust in "Life is Beautiful" is just as unrealistic as that of "Train de Vie"; the only difference is that "Train de Vie" revels from the first scene

    to the last in its unreality. If we must be unreal, let us at least enjoy it.
  • I saw this movie on Showtime, after a late night shift. Never went looking for it. I found the movie reveting.

    I saw some comments about "Life is Beautiful", and the comparison. A more apt comparison would be, I believe to "Fiddler on the Roof". In the same sense, perhaps not as musical though, the story seems to weave through the life and times of a community facing oncoming winds of change.

    In a way, with the arguments of the imitation Nazis, and the "revolutionary" communists, the pattern of life is both touchingly human, and comically sarcastic of how men are "seemingly" separated with each other.

    Although the Jewish communal environment seeps through the wonderful story, the later union with the gypsies who are also seeking a haven, relents to truly human and comic parody of the WWII era.
  • 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.
  • This is one of the best humor movies I've ever seen. It's really hard to mix a war plot with nice fine humor. Some try it but the result is very bad. This movie is an exception, it's great and funny.

    I think the soul of this movies is it near naive humor. There is no that boring kind of "intelligent and cool humor for intelligent and cool people". It's plain humor works fine.

    But don't think this movie is just humor because it has a humanitarian story bellow the humorous cover that touches the heart. It's about human beings doing their best to escape from death.

    The soundtrack of this movie is great. I love the music, it's fabulous.

    It's a great movie worth of seeing.
  • 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.
  • Despite a really annoying audience of noisy senior citizens I got into the spirit of "Train of Life (Train de vie)" (though it was odd having the shtetl residents in a foreign-language film speak French until I realized of course in "Jakob the Liar" Robin Williams and Liev Schreiber speak English so why not in a Belgian/Romanian-produced movie wouldn't they speak French?).

    It has the immediate feel of the magic realism of "The Milagro Beanfields War" and it no more cheapens the Holocaust than "The Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" cheapens the Civil War. It is full of the warmth and love of everyday life and personalities come sweetly to life.

    I thought the Fool as the Seer was getting a bit much until it's made clear he's not really the Village Idiot so no heavy-handed symbolism.(originally written 11/14/1999)
  • this brilliant film came out from a brilliant mind, that has a Jewish background. who shows this story is then a person who is talking about a tragedy that he indirectly lived or at least he lived through his parents tales. watching this movie you will become aware of the holocaust tragedy. however the way this movie is treated is unusual, because of its terrific irony. you will learn a terrible truth but laughing, or, to say it better, your mouth will laugh while your heart will be crying.probably at the end of the film you will feel stupid for having laughed for all its duration. if you loved "Life is beautiful", well then you can't miss "Trein de vie". a special suggestion is to check the soundtrack out carefully, it rocks!!
  • Answer: Yes. This film continued to surprise me with the way it handled this concept. Some may find the idea too hard to handle but it treats the heroes with enough respect that no offense should be taken. Watch out for the "Kick in the gut" ending.
  • Different people see different things on movies. This, which may be an obvious statement, is specially true about Train de vie. So let me explain what I found, IMHO, marvelous about this movie, and why I would recommend it.

    First of all, Train de Vie doesn't try to make a point about the Holocaust - is is just the perceived driver from which this community tries to escape. How this peculiar escape plan (with all odds against success) develops is just an excuse for portraying how war, religion, prejudice, ideologies, etc, end up affecting the life of simple people. Only that, instead of watching an emotionally-filled movie (which is Ok to me, but its not the only way to tell a sensitive story), we are presented with this in a more subtle way: as a townspeople tale where each of these real-world factors is reflected - in a mocked, twisted, funny way- inside the train environment. Communist dogma, nazi's 'ethnic order', social privileges, military commands, everything from which this community was isolated is suddenly 'infecting' people on the train, of course, with absurd consequences that go against the very goal of the community, life - just the same effect the outside-train world is suffering.

    I'm not trying to say this is the one and only intention of the movie, yet, it is what I value the most. As for the rest of it, being a tale of townspeople, its characters are stereotyped yet intimate and natural in their motivations; from the music to the dialogs and comic situations, nothing is forced here. And you can end up laughing at the oddity of all this world, while thinking of just how tragically resembling of our own real world it is - something the ending just reinforces.

    Whether you choose to see all this as a marvelous tale or as an offense to common sense is up to you; but certainly, there is a lot more to be watched throughout this story than its ending or its historical correctness. And I can hardly see any antisemitism on this.
  • The film Train de vie is a story about how to cope in a time of horror. It is essential to never loose your humour and imagination even in time of war. To stay sane and alive you can turn to insanity. A great paradox but what in life isn´t. I think that we need new ways to look att the holocaust. The hole story is dependent of the end without the ending Train de vie would be rather distasteful i can admit to that. But the ending makes you stop and think and realize that everything you´ve just seen is a figment of the narrators imagination. Constructed by him for his own mental survival. I think that this is a warm and wonderful film, much because of that it is open for many interpretations. Plus the music is absolutely great!
  • What happens when a non Jew makes a movie about the Jewish Holocaust? "Life is Beautiful", this is what happens. Benigni's movie had very little Jewish content, absolutely no Jewish feel to it and the author excuse was that his creation was in fact a "fable". Benigni, obviously didn't understand that the Jewish experience of Holocaust is not a universal experience because of the uniqueness of the Jewish culture, for one. This is why, his movie, funny at times, failed to be convincing.

    I brought Benigni up for discussion because his name seems to be always associated with " The Train of Life". Both movies talk about Holocaust in a humorous way. But unlike Benigni, Radu Mihaileanu, a Jew himself, acknowledged in his movie that the way the Jews felt the war was very different than how other felt it, the Italians for instance even if some of them shared similar experiences- Benigni's fathers spent two years in a concentration camp. Mihaileanu's Jews, in their attempt to escape sure death, used Jewish wisdom, collaborated in a Jewish fashion and laughed at Jewish jokes. Yes they laughed a lot, at Nazis, of course and equally at themselves. We the spectators laughed we them. What happens when a Jew tells the story of Gypsies' Holocaust experience? Mihaileanu tried it. This whole scene was the only moment of the movie that regrettably reminded me of "Life is beautiful". I am able though to ignore this unfortunate cinematic incident and highly recommend "The Train of Life".
  • What is a genius? someone who can get a huge result with a minimum effort. A simple zoom-out and all the story changed its mood and appeared in all its tragedy. I'm Italian and I appreciate Roberto Benigni, but I think that "La vita è bella" is a good film just because there is Benigni as an actor; on the other hand, "Train the vie" is a wonderful film in the whole.
  • L.I.B. got more publicity because of Begnini and it was a great film. Train of Life has an overall better plot and looks at the holocaust from a more Jewish perspective. Train of Life is a terrific wonderful film and the viewer is not distracted by big name stars. It is a must see that really gets going after the characters are introduced. It's like Fiddler because both movies concentrate on the towns' people.
  • This movie is a great, fresh, original look at events surrounding the Holocaust. Mind you, this film does not look at the Holocaust itself, but at events surrounding it. It is an epitome of Jewish humor; anyone who finds this movie offensive does not understand this. The movie balances hope and honesty about tragedy beautifully, uses humor in a respectful context to make important deeper points (that is, it is not slapstick), and incorporates brief statements on love and theology. The various emotions that the movie evokes, often depending on the viewer's own mood at the time, allow the movie to be watched repeatedly and for new levels of meaning to reveal themselves. Roberto Benigni may have stolen the concept of "Life is Beautiful" from Mihaileanu's "Train de Vie," but the films cannot be compared. Whereas Benigni glibly believes that love and laughter can conquer all, even the Holocaust, Mihaileanu understands that they can only help one survive separately from the more practical and real danger of physical death. In other words, love and laughter are directly part of the point of "Life is Beautiful"--ends in themselves--a somewhat offensive concept. In "Train de Vie," on the other hand, they are on the side and only serve as foils, as means to ends. The ending of "Train de Vie" further eliminates any glib concept of easy survival that is present in "Life is Beautiful." A must see, especially for anyone who has seen and disliked "Life is Beautiful."
  • dromasca27 November 2003
    The Holocaust comedy may be a surprising genre for some - but I am sure many of the Holocaust victims would understand it. Humor is one of the secrets of Jewish survival, and even in the darkest times as WWII, Jews tried to cope with the situation with a mix of faith, resolution and a unique humor that survived and helped them survive the times.

    Radu Mihaileanu's film is a fantastic story of hope and dreams in horrific times. The idea is good and original, with an ending fifteen minutes that pay back some of the viewers hard time in the mid of the film. There are a lot of good things to be seen here, but also a lot of slow pace and conventional cinema, sometimes even bad cinema. The film is moving and emotional, but more at the abstract level. Too many of the characters on the screen belong to the Jewish (positive) stereotypes descended directly from 'Fiddler on the Roof'. Acting is good, but even the best actors could hardly overcome the schematic approach of the script. The secondary plot of the sudden exposure of the close shtetl society to the non-Jewish world is treated in a way too much similar to some of the Bashevis-Singer books and deserves much more than the simplicist approach given to it in this film

    It is always worth making and seeing films that show the Holocaust from different perspectives. 'Train de vie' is neither the best, nor the worst of them. 7/10 on my personal scale.
  • All those media led moviegoers are fussing over Italian Roberto Benigni's "La Vita E Bella" a.k.a. "Life is Beautiful"! It may be a good movie but Radu Mihaileanu's "Train of Life" is best and much superior. I even question myself if Mihaileanu might have inspired Benigni. Their thematic is quite similar.
  • Great. Only this word can describe a masterpiece such as Train de vie... a fun yet respectful satyre of yiddish commonplaces, all with a plot that's nothing short of the deed of a genius. The grim ending is unavoidable for a matter of due respect to the "shoah" victims.
  • Mickey Knox15 October 2002
    This is a surprisingly good movie. Great idea, great cast, sometimes very funny. There are some really unreal scenes or ideas, that made me think they were used just to move the plot forward, but the ending destroys every disappointment I have had during the film. Still, the acting could have been better. Vote: 7.5 out of 10.
  • This is a really great movie, full of color, full of everything a different way to see the holocaust, great script, the director offer the paper of Shlomo to Roberto Benigni before he make Life is Beautiful, but he rejected it, some people said that Benigni stole the main idea of the movie, but whatever, this picture is so much better than the other, cause it is not based just in one person experience is based in an entire town of jews, with a lot of important characters that make the movie, and no one is better than the other. All this with something so much cinematographic like a train.
  • Mihaileanu was disappointed with both Spielberg's ("Schindler's List") and Benigni's ("La vita e bella/Life is Beautiful") portrayals of the Holocaust, although he does credit Spielberg for admitting that he thought that his effort was a failure.

    The Holocaust poses a monstrous challenge to film makers - how can one make a film about the Holocaust without insulting the memory of those who perished?

    Rather than attempting the arguably impossible task of realistically portraying the gloom and horror of the Holocaust, Mihaileanu uses humour with great effect. For example, viewers will be surprised at how amusing they find an orthodox Jew acting as a Nazi officer, complete with a tinge of Yiddish accent.

    Despite the use of humour, Mihaileanu does not fail to import the gravity of the Holocaust. He achieves this through a delicate yet powerful mechanism that cannot only be experienced by seeing the film.

    Occasionally the humour is a little trying - perhaps this is cultural, and it would have been more rewarding to see the film in the local language rather than French. Otherwise, the film is excellent.

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