Train Of Life

A tragicomic Holocaust fable that's by turns silly, triumphant and achingly sad; in short, the film Robin Williams's JAKOB THE LIAR wanted to be. In a remote German hamlet in 1941, village idiot Schlomo (Lionel Abelanski) has a terrifying vision: The Nazis are coming for his friends and neighbors, down to the last man, woman and child; when they're done,...read more

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A tragicomic Holocaust fable that's by turns silly, triumphant and achingly sad; in short, the film Robin Williams's JAKOB THE LIAR wanted to be. In a remote German hamlet in 1941, village idiot Schlomo (Lionel Abelanski) has a terrifying vision: The

Nazis are coming for his friends and neighbors, down to the last man, woman and child; when they're done, they'll burn the town to ashes. The rabbi and town elders heed Schlomo's vision — God has been known to speak through fools — but they can't conceive a course of action. "A train,"

offers Shlomo. The Germans are deporting Jews in trains; why not get their own train, run up some Nazi uniforms ("who are the best tailors? Jews!"), get a tutor to knock the Yiddish out of the faux-Nazis' German and deport themselves to somewhere safe... Russia first, then Israel. And so they do,

in a flurry of communal effort, placing mezuzahs on the train then slapping swastikas over them, tucking yarmulkes beneath iron helmets and tefillen under storm-trooper jackets. The surprises come once the train starts rolling. Real Nazis are only half the trouble; the villagers must also cope

with the psychological consequences of their masquerade. The mock Nazis throw their weight around (for the good of the community, they assert); a communist cell formed by lovesick Yossi (Michel Muller), who pines for the beautiful and pragmatic Esther (Agathe De La Fontaine), starts fomenting

revolution in the boxcars. The plan itself is comically audacious; writer/director Radu Mihaileanu's inspiration was a persistent story which proved sadly untrue. And after bringing the comic complications to a climax in the bizarre but thoroughly apt image of black-clad Orthodox Jews and lewdly

colorful gypsies dancing joyously around a fire, it ends with a bitter sting that freezes the chuckle in your throat. (In French and German, with subtitles)

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  • Released: 1998
  • Rating: R
  • Review: A tragicomic Holocaust fable that's by turns silly, triumphant and achingly sad; in short, the film Robin Williams's JAKOB THE LIAR wanted to be. In a remote German hamlet in 1941, village idiot Schlomo (Lionel Abelanski) has a terrifying vision: The Nazi… (more)

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