Trains have played a significant role in the history of cinema since the early days of silent films. The first train scene in cinema is believed to have appeared in the Lumiere Brothers’ 1895 film, “Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat Station”. From then on, trains have been a staple of the film industry.
Train scenes have been used to create tension, drama, and action, and have been a popular setting for Westerns, thrillers, and heist films. Today, trains continue to be featured in modern cinema, from Unstoppable” (2010) to “Snowpiercer” (2013). Here are five of my favourite movies that feature trains as a central part of the story:
Clyde Bruckman & Buster Keaton
This silent comedy film starring Buster Keaton. The film follows a train engineer during the Civil War who sets out to rescue his beloved locomotive, “The General,” after it is stolen by Union spies. The film is considered a classic of early cinema, known for its thrilling chase scenes and innovative use of stunts.
Murder on the Orient Express
Agatha Christie’s novel of the same name. Directed by Sidney Lumet, the film follows detective Hercule Poirot as he investigates a murder aboard the luxurious Orient Express train. The star-studded cast includes Albert Finney, Lauren Bacall, and Ingrid Bergman, who won an Academy Award for her performance.
The Taking of Pelham One Two Three
Considered by many to be one of the all-time classic crime thrillers. It tells the story of a group of armed men who hijack a New York City subway train, demanding a ransom of one million dollars. The film is known for its tense atmosphere, clever dialogue, and memorable characters.
The Railway Man
Based on the autobiography of Eric Lomax, a British army officer who was captured and tortured by the Japanese during World War II. The film stars Colin Firth as Lomax and Nicole Kidman as his wife and follows Lomax as he confronts his past and seeks closure through a journey to meet his torturer decades later.
Strangers on a Train
This Psychological thriller film follows two strangers who meet on a train and engage in a conversation about committing murder. One man takes the conversation seriously and follows through, leading to a twisted plot of deception, danger, and suspense.
Honourable mentions for those films that just missed out on my top 5; The Great Train Robbery” (1978), The Darjeeling Limited” (2007), Runaway Train” (1985), Von Ryan’s Express” (1965) and a guilty pleasure of mine: “The Midnight Meat Train” (2008)
What’s your favourite movie involving a train? comment below and let me know.