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"TRAIN OF LIFE"
(1999) (Lionel Abelanski, Rufus) (R)

Alcohol/
Drugs
Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Frightening/
Tense Scenes
Guns/
Weapons
Minor Minor Heavy *Moderate Moderate
Imitative
Behavior
Jump
Scenes
Music
(Scary/Tense)
Music
(Inappropriate)
Profanity
Minor None None None Heavy
Sex/
Nudity
Smoking Tense Family
Scenes
Topics To
Talk About
Violence
Extreme Minor None Mild Moderate


QUICK TAKE:
Comedy/Drama (Subtitled): Facing the approach of Nazi forces, the inhabitants of a small Jewish village decide to fake their own deportment, complete with some of their own playing German officers, and ride the rails to freedom.
PLOT:
It's the summer of 1941 and the Nazis are depleting entire villages of Jews in eastern Europe. Upon learning this, Shlomo (LIONEL ABELANSKI), the inhabitant of one such village, races home to inform the village's "wise men," including the local rabbi (CLEMENT HARARI) and accountant, Yankele (BRUNO ABRAHAM-KREMER), of such atrocities.

Concerned about how to react to such news and what step they should next take, Shlomo, known as the village idiot, suggests that they deport themselves from the town before the Germans do, acting as if they're headed for a concentration camp when in reality they'd be traveling to freedom. Although the idea is initially met with criticism, after no one else comes up with anything better, the wise men agree.

The only problem is that they don't have a way to get through German checkpoints without German soldiers onboard a train, and to make matters worse, they don't even have a train. Thus, the rabbi and the others choose a group of men to dress and act like Nazis, with Mordechai (RUFUS), to play the head officer.

Slowly acquiring and then fixing up freight cars and finally a locomotive for their train, the villagers set off on their trek to Palestine. Among the many villagers onboard is Esther (AGATHE DE LA FONTAINE), the town beauty who's in love with Mordechai's son, Sami (MIHAI CALIN), as well as Yossi (MICHAEL MULLER), a young man who believes himself a communist and is determined to convert the others.

As the villagers' train makes its way through the European countryside -- driven by a man who's never conducted a train before but is learning via a manual -- they must contend with several problems. They include a small group of resistance fighters who believe the "soldiers" to be real Germans, Yossi's protests and attempts at causing a communist uprising on board the train, Mordechai and his troops taking their role playing a bit too seriously, and finally real German units who stop the train at various points questioning their orders and destination.

WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
Unless they absolutely loved films such as "Life is Beautiful" and "Jakob the Liar," it's highly unlikely.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: R
For some sexuality and nudity.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
  • LIONEL ABELANSKI plays the town idiot, an idealist of a man who's not as foolish as others believe and comes up with the plan to save the villagers.
  • RUFUS plays the villager who reluctantly agrees to play the train's commanding German officer, and is then criticized for getting too much into his part (although he does so for the better good of the villagers).
  • CLEMENT HARARI plays the village rabbi who tries to keep his villagers united in body and religion.
  • BRUNO ABRAHAM-KREMER plays the town accountant whose worries over finances irritate his ulcer.
  • AGATHE DE LA FONTAINE plays the town beauty who's in love with Mordechai's son, and then decides that she needs to find a lover (and she apparently does with several) so that she doesn't die a virgin if they're captured by the Germans.
  • MICHAEL MULLER plays the young Marxist on board the train who tries to get others to join the communist party and rebel against the others in the name of communism.
  • CAST, CREW, & TECHNICAL INFO

    HOW OTHERS RATED THIS MOVIE


    Curious if this title is entertaining, any good, and/or has any artistic merit?
    Then read OUR TAKE of this film.


    (Note: The "Our Take" review of this title examines the film's artistic merits and does not take into account any of the possibly objectionable material listed below).


    OUR WORD TO PARENTS:
    The following is a brief summary of the content found in this R-rated comedy/drama. Several scenes show female nudity in both sexual and nonsexual context (with the latter showing full frontal and rear nudity). A sexual encounter occurs with nudity, movement and sound, while other sexually related behavior also occurs.

    Profanity is rated as heavy due to 1 use of the "f" word (in English subtitles), while only a handful of other profanities and colorful phrases are present. Some viewers may take offense at the film portraying a comic/farcical look at Holocaust related issues, although it is done with some obvious reverence to the matters.

    Although the film is a comedy, some moments where Germans confront the villagers, including one where an officer seems ready to execute one of them, may be unsettling or suspenseful to some viewers. Some non-lethal violence is also present, including bombs dropping and people threatening others with weapons.

    Beyond the obvious bad attitudes that the Nazis have, to some minor drinking and smoking, the rest of the film's categories are mostly void of major objectionable material. Nonetheless, should you still be concerned about the film's appropriateness for yourself or anyone else in your home, we suggest that you take a closer look at our more detailed content listings.


    ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • We briefly see some men in a bar drinking liquor.
  • The rabbi consumes some wine during a religious ceremony.
  • BLOOD/GORE
  • A tailor has scrapes and scratches on his face.
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • Some viewers may see the film as having both for presenting a comical view of a tragedy (it does, however, do so in a reverent way).
  • The Nazis obviously have bad attitudes toward the Jews, but more of that's implied through historical knowledge than actual occurrences in the film.
  • Some may see Yossi as having some by stirring up tensions by pushing his communist beliefs on others and/or for stating that God doesn't exist.
  • FRIGHTENING SCENES
  • Although the film is played mostly as a broad comedy, some/all of the following scenes may be tense or unsettling to some viewers.
  • It briefly looks like another train is going to crash into the villagers' train, but it takes another track at the last second and completely misses it.
  • Real Germans stop the train and Mordechai must fool the German commander while his troops hold machine guns on the villagers.
  • Some real German soldiers grab a lost Jewish tailor and drag him away.
  • Another set of German soldiers stops the train and Mordechai must again confront a German officer who questions their orders and destination. That officer then nearly shoots Shlomo (and has his gun to his head), but it then turns out that these "Germans" are really just gypsies in similar disguises.
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • Rifles/Machine guns: Carried and/or used to threaten others. See "Violence" for details.
  • Dynamite/Bombs: Used to threaten to blow up trains (the former) and seen exploding on the war front (the latter).
  • Flamethrower: Used by Nazi forces to burn a Jewish village.
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • Phrases (in English subtitles): "Shut up," "Idiot," "Bastards" and "Don't bust my balls."
  • JUMP SCENES
  • None.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • None.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • None.
  • PROFANITY
  • At least 1 "f" word, 2 "s" words, 1 ass (used with "hole") and 3 uses of "My God" as exclamations (all in English subtitles).
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • We see many of the village women bathing in a communal bath and thus see many instances of female full frontal and rear nudity, including a closer, nude look at Esther.
  • Esther complains that she's going to die a virgin.
  • After Sami complains about being kicked out of Yossi's communist party, Ester opens her shirt (exposing her bare breasts) and asks "Is this worth Marx, Lenin (and someone else)?" He then grabs her and they roll around on the ground in an embrace.
  • As Mordechai and others storm a real German headquarters, we see some women run out and then see a German officer pulling up and then zipping up his pants (suggesting something sexual was occurring).
  • We see subtitles of Esther and a man in a tent saying, "Again?" "No, tomorrow." We then see a partially obscured view of her sitting nude on his lap, having sex with him. As such, we see most of her bare butt and sexual movement and hear her sexual sounds.
  • A gypsy woman confronts Sami and then grabs his clothed butt, telling him that she'll love him like he's never been loved before and that "actions speak louder than words." She then passionately kisses him and pulls him down on top of her on the ground.
  • A gypsy woman jiggles her abundant, but clothed breasts and cleavage in the rabbi's face.
  • We see Esther and another man fooling around with some clothed fondling occurring (he feeling her breasts, etc...). When Shlomo walks in on them, Ester holds her shirt closed while asking him if he never wanted a woman.
  • SMOKING
  • A few miscellaneous characters smoke.
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • None.
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • The Holocaust and whether such issues should be used in a comic fashion (just like "Life is Beautiful" and "Jakob the Liar" did).
  • VIOLENCE
  • The mayor of another village smacks a young boy for believing he was telling lies about Shlomo's village getting ready to leave.
  • The train conductor backs up his train (instead of going forward) and accidentally knocks down a tree.
  • German soldiers use a flamethrower and torches to burn an empty Jewish village.
  • Esther briefly and halfheartedly tries to strangle Yossi for reassigning her potential boyfriend to another train.
  • Mordechai and Yossi briefly struggle.
  • Some real German soldiers grab a lost Jewish tailor and drag him away.
  • So as not to give away their ruse, Mordechai's assistant "German" officer kicks the above tailor when he comes running up to hug them.
  • A German officer nearly shoots Shlomo (and has his gun to his head), but it then turns out that he and the other "Germans" are really just gypsies in similar disguises.
  • We hear bombs dropping and exploding and then see many of them flying through the air and exploding all around the train as it sits on the war front.



  • Reviewed November 15, 1999 / Posted November 19, 1999

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