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4.4 out of 5 stars
The Navigators [2001] [DVD]
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 11 October 2010
Earthy and gritty Yorkshire humour in connection with an appalling piece of politico/industrial vandalism.It is not for the faint-hearted and shows the thin line between tradition and certainty and the sudden collapse of sense.What in hell's name do you destroy expensive equipment just so the "competitors" down the line do not gain any advantage? Railworking is hard labour and without collective awareness danger and indeed death is always around the corner. Profit and its pursuit is a marvellous thing - especially when the conditions have been created from the fruits of social ownership.If the result of profit is however less saftey less service less pride was it worth it? Watch the film enjoy the dialogue feel the coldness and damp of the railways( and modern British society) juxtaposed with the warmness of human relationships, and be thankful that England can still produce such outstanding dramas. I suppose the question is really whether BR was so bad as it was painted, and if privatisation is any better?
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
The transition from British Rail to privatised companies wasn't easy. Instead of a nationwide workforce the BR workers found themselves belonging to competing groups who were bidding against each other to get the work. It was a culture of us and them on so many levels and this Ken Loach film provides an insight into the corporate politics and how it impacted on the ordinary folk who felt the effects most.

The film focuses on a small group from a depot in South Yorkshire, we primarily see them at the workplace but enough of their home life is portrayed to demonstrate how the stresses of an irregular wage take its toll. As you expect with a Loach directed film, this has a realism to it which makes it feel more like a documentary. We are able to see into the workplace and observe the conversations there.

At first we see how during the early phase of privatisation, tension between workers and managers increase. But that's nothing compared to the thumbscrews being twisted by the company directors who want demonstrations from their management staff that they are 'on board' by getting them to undermine the workers. It's not quite in keeping with the dogma they have sent out to be played on video tape where the Managing Director sells a message of an exiting future for those willing to take the initiative.

The dialogue in the film feels unrehearsed and natural, the outbursts are genuinely angry and the banter often made me chuckle. Most males who have grafted and struggled to make ends meet will identify with the men in the film, and anyone who works for a big corporation will recognise similarities with the large companies managerial style here. The film was released at a time when industry in South Yorkshire was a mere ghost of what it once was with coal mines, steel plants, and other local industry closing to the detriment of the nearby community. It captures the mood well and seems to make an unofficial "South Yorkshire trilogy" alongside The Full Monty and Brassed Off.

The left wing politics of both Ken Loach and writer Rob Dawber are present in the struggle of the working man against the profit chasing new franchises. There's an emerging and dangerous culture of doing things as cheaply as possible. As regulations get routinely broken, those workers who raise the issue of safety find themselves blacklisted as troublemakers, and therefore not asked back to a job, workers become scared to let down the agencies and prioritise them above all others - including family.

As Loach did with Riff Raff, he opens up a fairly testosterone filled world and instead displaying machismo we see the vulnerablitities, the camaraderie, and the humour of the men at the centre of the film.

The DVD also contains 2 documentaries 'Making Tracks' is an old black and white public information broadcast about maintaining the railways. It's actually quite boring but it's interesting to see how network building was seen at the time. 'Railing Against It' is a short film about the screenwriter Rob who actually worked on the Railways himself. Although he lost his job, his main battle was with cancer which was contracted as a direct result from his exposure to asbestos on the railway. It's a pretty emotional story of a man who is desperate to stay alive in order to stay with his children and it's fitting that it is included on this release.

In a nutshell: After long careers of regular work, privatisation brought uncertainty to many. This film is written by an ex-British Rail worker and coupled with Loach's social realism there are parts of this film which feel more like a documentary - if you were to put a voice-over on some scenes it would make a believable fly-on-wall special about the industry at the time!
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
Ken Loach is attracted by extreme situations. In this film he shows the damage privatisation caused in the railway industry. Team spirit was destroyed among railwaymen with all it brought along : tension, selfishness, isolation, carelessness, even maybe hatred and cruelty.

The men lost their daily security and it also meant tension in the families, with their wives, girlfriends, and ex-spouses and children.

Family life suffered tremendously, also meaning some other blights like alcoholism, though Loach does not insist on that point. He describes in details the way agencies become the real gobetweens for these now flexible workers and the real employers who cut on cost even if it means less safety and more danger.

Of course Ken Loach ends up with an accident : a man is wounded by a train at night because there was no one to make sure the tracks were empty while the men were transporting concrete in buckets, having regressed in their working conditions at least one century.

Work there is, for sure, but unions are banned, regular hours are dead, private life disappears, working conditions are primitive and accidents become a real plague, not to mention the tremendous waste it means when two private firms are competing on one site, each one sending less men than before but the two together sending mor men. A complete break with the present in the name of a future that smells like the past very much.

And today the state is forced to go back into the picture to guarantee some security and regularity, for the passengers this time.

Dr Jacques COULARDEAU
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 16 June 2010
A classic Loach film, focussing on one of the most stupid and disastrous acts of political dogma carried out in the name of "market economics". Loach demonstrates again his knack for using the personal to paint a bigger picture. Nice to see Dean Andrews demonstrating his acting ability, instead of sleepwalking his way through a dodgy script (Ashes to Ashes series three).
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
A FILM ABOUT THE PRIVATISATION OF THE RAILWAYS,A GOOD SOLID POLITICAL FILM ABOUT THE WAY THE UNIONS WERE TREATED,AND IS VERY RELEVANT TODAY.LET STANDEDS DROP TO ANY OLD BUSINESS,WHO ARE ONLY CONCERNED ABOUT MAKING MONEY AND YOU END UP WITH WORKERS SHAFTED AND AGENCY STAFF USE FOR EASY MONEY,AND COST CUTTING EXERCISES.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 9 January 2010
Ken Loach does it again - brilliant!! Privatisation does NOT rule O.K. I only wish the right-wing politicians in Madrid were capable of seeing and understanding Loach's film, not so much in the context of transport, but applying it to health care and education. AOD
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 20 January 2013
A great movie. Pure Ken Loach production, for all Ken Loach's fans ! Very moving and as usual a good vision of the various social layers of our society.
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on 7 August 2013
I love Ken Loach films. I just wish that somehow, I'd known that this had Dutch subtitles which I cannot remove as that would have influenced my purchase.
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on 4 March 2014
This film is really interesting, moreso for my husband who is a freight train driver, and we both enjoyed watching it
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on 29 January 2013
I had seen this film years ago and wanted to have it now. I've not been disappointed and still can recommend it!
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