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Non War Love Story with Steam Trains set in Siberia.
on 17 February 2013
This is not a war film and as such once again we have been mis-sold a film previously released, this was made in 2010 and was called `The Edge', which could be a reference to the protagonists living on the edge of civilisation or the end of something. This is just after the end of WW 2 and is based in a Siberian labour camp, where collaborators of the Germans have been sent to pay for their crimes to the Motherland. Then Ignat (Vladimir Mashkov) arrives as a returning war hero but just wants to drive the steam locomotives, and try to shake off the shell shock he has fallen victim too and will use morphine or in the case of the labour camp, moonshine to help with the pain. He immediately gets on the wrong side of everyone and steals the woman of Stepan who is the current train driver. It is obvious his resentment will soon boil over.
After a fall from grace Ignat takes off to an uninhabited island where he finds an abandoned train and some feral woman who lives in it. To say much more could be plot spoiler. This is a very gritty film that is shot absolutely beautifully by Yuri Klimenko using some inventive camera angles and showing the trains as almost living breathing animals in some scenes. The music score is also rather good and was done by Irish composer David Holmes. This was actually nominated for the Golden Globe best foreign picture award, so clearly was objectively seen as having merit. There is loads of soviet politicising, the conditions are shown warts and all and the extras are all brilliant. The central performances too are quite amazing and the love story that weaves its way into the film comes across as completely believable.
Fans of steam trains will enjoy this as the locomotives are central to the whole story and their fate is linked inexorably to that of the players. Where this falls down is the naked attempt by New Horizon Films to sell this as a war film. The cover says `The action scenes are epic', there are no battle scenes at all as the war is at an end. There are no planes, no rampaging soldiers and no explosions; there is a lot of steam so that is the only representative part of the film depicted here. It is a shame as this means it will attract the wrong audience and miss the correct one. I watch a broad spectrum of foreign and World cinema and so appreciated it for what it is hence my rating, if I were a hardened war film fan this would probably get 1 star due to frustration.
In Russian and German with good sub titles for the most part except that is for the German, where we have some woman speaking the translation in Russian, so if your German is no good then you will miss some of the dialogue. Why this was done is beyond me and it nearly cost a star. If you want a love story on the extremes of existence then you will want to see this, if you want a war film then please do not even think about it.