Train de Vie – Train of Life

[This article was previously published in Italian here.]

For the International Holocaust Remembrance Day I want to suggest you to watch a very beautiful and meaningful film: “Train of Life” (“Train de vie”), by Radu Mihăileanu.

The film tells the story of the community of a shtetl, a Hebrew settlement in Eastern Europe, which, faced with the advance of the Nazi-fascist forces in 1941, tries to save itself from deportation. Shlomo, the village idiot, suggests an absurd solution to the council of elders, an idea worthy of a madman: to organize a fake deportation, so as to be able to flee to Palestine via the Soviet Union.

This film is capable of skillfully inserting a subtle Yiddish humor into the tragic, monstrous and insane reality of Nazi-fascist persecutions and deportations. Furthermore, the irony does not spare various clichés about Jews and Gentiles, theological discussions and political diatribes. Not surprisingly, the director declared: “Humor as a Jew is what made me survive, which saved our life and our memory”.

The narrator is Shlomo, the madman, whose ‘senseless’ reasoning becomes more and more reasonable, compared to the situation in which the Hebrews of his shtetl find themselves.

“Our companions flew away, they flew away hanging on a yellow star, carried away by a furious wind. They had terror in their eyes. The birds flew away, and they will never come back. The sun went out and no more stars appeared. Only black clouds, and fire.” (taken from a monologue by Shlomo)

Never forget.


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