As Tony Scott’s Unstoppable hits theaters this week, film writers around the internet are reminiscing about train movies. Time magazine has a nice list of their Top 10 Train Movies, but film critic Matt Zoller Seitz has a slideshow over at Salon that I think really gets at why rail travel can be such a fascinating film subject. From his description of Malick’s Days of Heaven:
Director Terrence Malick is a master at assembling music, dialogue, sound effects and images through editing so that the specifics of time and place that normally define movies are subsumed into a perpetual present, an endless moment that the viewer doesn’t so much watch as ride, the way a kite rides a breeze. The train sequence near the beginning of “Days of Heaven,” 103 seconds of bliss scored to banjo wizard Leo Kottke’s “The Train and the Gate,” is a great example. It describes a finite journey from one U.S. state to another, but it’s not about what’s happening or where it’s happening; it’s about the thoughts and feelings that tumble through the narrator’s head as she remembers it all.