In their first appearance together at the Rafael since their initial “dialogue” series in 2009, David Thomson, celebrated film critic and historian, will join award-winning novelist and poet Michael Ondaatje for an entertaining weekend of screenings and discussions around trains as cinematic subject and stimulus.

Thomson is the author of more than 20 books, including a number of biographies and The New Biographical Dictionary of Film, which, in a 2010 poll, was voted the best film book of all time.

Ondaatje is the author of several novels, including The English Patient, Anil’s Ghost, and The Cat’s Table, as well as his interview book The Conversations- Walter Murch and the Art of Editing Film.

They will also engage the audience in their discussions.

FROM THE PRESENTERS:

“Trains on film? Trains in film? Or maybe just trains and movies as motion dreams that enthrall us, and take us somewhere else while we’re sitting in apparent safety and comfort. From the Lumiere brothers to Hitchcock and beyond, movie-makers have loved to get on trains. The two machines are escape fantasies with the same reliance on desperation and bliss. Trains are contained worlds, furious energies racing towards death and climax, and journeys that mimic the destinies of life – they are our kind of thing. This series grows out of our fascination with the kinship of the two and our shared desire to transport viewers.

“Our selection has to omit many great films, but these champion loco features will be hurried along with shorts, clips, extracts and collisions that will come as surprises and delights. All aboard!”


For individual programs, regular Rafael prices apply.
Non-refundable passes valid for all six shows are available for $40 general, and $25 for CFI members.


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THE TRAIN

FRIDAY, MARCH 11  •  7:00 PM

As the Allies approach Paris in 1944, a stationmaster (Burt Lancaster) has to stop an art-obsessed German colonel (Paul Scofield) from transporting loads of French masterworks by train to Germany. Director John Frankenheimer’s terrific action-thriller bursts with sweat and oil and is graced with the acrobatic skill of Lancaster, then in his early 50s. With Jeanne Moreau. (US 1965) 133 min. plus discussion. 35mm print!

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SHANGHAI EXPRESS

SATURDAY, MARCH 12  •  2:00 PM

One of the finest collaborations between Marlene Dietrich and director Josef von Sternberg, this pre-Code gem features Clive Brook as a British officer who encounters his former lover, now a courtesan, on the express between Beijing and Shanghai. She to him: “It took more than one man to change my name to Shanghai Lily.” Top cinematographers Lee Garmes and James Wong Howe provide the dazzling visuals. With Anna May Wong. (US 1932) 80 min. plus discussion.

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THE LADY VANISHES

SATURDAY, MARCH 12  •  4:15 PM

Alfred Hitchcock and trains were made for each other, and this seminal work from his British period is one of his best. Michael Redgrave, Margaret Lockwood and Dame May Whitty star in this comic thriller about an English tourist’s search for an elderly train companion who has apparently disappeared and whose existence is doubted by most of the other passengers. (UK 1938) 96 min. plus discussion. Digital restoration!

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RUNAWAY TRAIN
INTRODUCTION BY GREIL MARCUS

SATURDAY, MARCH 12  •  7:15 PM

Jon Voight, Eric Roberts and Rebecca De Mornay star in this white-knuckle action film from Russian director Andrei Konchalovsky,  based on an original screenplay by Akira Kurosawa. Two hardened criminals break out of an Alaskan prison, and along with a female railroad worker, find themselves on a speeding train that can’t be stopped. Rated R. (US 1986) 111 min. plus discussion. 35m print!

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BRIEF ENCOUNTER

SUNDAY, MARCH 13  •  3:00 PM

Based on a play by Noël Coward and directed by David Lean, this pinnacle of film romance stars Celia Johnson and Trevor Howard as two adults, both married with children, who encounter each other at a railway station and, during subsequent meetings there, find their casual relationship developing into something deeper. (UK 1945) 86 min. plus discussion. Digital restoration!

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UNSTOPPABLE

SUNDAY, MARCH 13  •  6:00 PM

Inspired by the true-life “Crazy Eights” incident, the final film directed by Tony Scott is a runaway-train thriller with an added edge: It’s laden with toxic chemicals, and an accident could decimate human life and cause environmental disaster. Denzel Washington is the veteran engineer and Chris Pine the young conductor who must risk their lives to stop it and save everyone in its path. With Rosario Dawson. Rated PG-13. (US 2010) 98 min. plus discussion.

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