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Trains as Cultural Icons: Symbols of Freedom, Nostalgia and Hope

Take the train, what is your next stop?

As a vocabulary, the Chinese word “train” always gives me an ancient impression, perhaps because of the figurative word “fire”, I can’t help but think of the ancient times when coal is burning forward, black smoke is erupting from time to time, and there is a loud bang on the wasteland. Transportation. It may also be limited by Taiwan’s experience. When the economy took off in the last century, highways were completed, and every household had a private car. Driving became the first choice for long-distance travel, and the train seemed to gradually become a symbol of nostalgia or youth. Of course, this is just a prejudice that does not conform to reality. The technology of railway trains is improving day by day, fast, safe and stable, and they shoulder the heavy responsibility of people’s movement all over the world. Even in Taiwan, not counting the MRT or the ground cable car, hundreds of thousands of passengers use the Taiwan Railway and the high-speed rail to complete daily commutes of varying lengths.

The railway train has never been just a means of transportation. The train carriage has become an intermediary connecting different places, carrying different emotions between “leaving” and “returning”. The famous singer Lin Qiang’s classic song “Go Forward” is an example. Surrounding the image of the train leaving home to Taipei, there is intertwined with the ambition of leaving one’s hometown to go to the big city and a little bit of confusion. The station passed by one station after another, and the scenery outside the window was like a movie ; even if they did not live in 1990, the cities they left and went to were different, the pictures formed by the lyrics still touched the thoughts of countless listeners and aroused their minds. Shared memories of trains.

1951 Strangers on a Train
The train shuttles between points, creating a space for a period of time – everyone in the carriage is a passer-by in each other’s life, and there is no intersection when they arrive at the station. And in crime novelist Patricia. In the eyes of Patricia Highsmith, she sees the possibility of a perfect murder in such a chance encounter, and the stranger on the train is the best choice to fulfill the murder wish of the other party, so she wrote this story of exchange killing. This happened to suit the appetite of suspense film master Alfred Hitchcock. He bought the copyright, and after several twists and turns, adapted this story into his own film.

The story begins when the hero meets a rich man on the train. At that time, he is worrying about his marriage. The strange rich man pours out his hatred for his father. Little does he know that he has an idea and proposes to kill in exchange. In this way, the police can’t Find the perpetrator through the motive of the crime without worrying about an alibi. The male protagonist thought it was just the drunken nonsense of the other party, until his wife was killed and the other party came to ask him to perform the contract and kill the father, only to find that everything has changed… The film has Hitchcock’s usual aesthetics, Whether it is the scene of the murder reflected in the lens, or the scuffle of the merry-go-round at the end of the film, it has become a classic picture in film history. More importantly, he captures the “evil” of human nature. The blurred scenery outside the train window seems to symbolize the annihilation of good and evil.

1974, 2017 “Murder on the Orient Express” Murder on the Orient Express
This film is adapted from the masterpiece of the same name by Agatha Christie, who is famous as the “Queen of Reasoning”. It has been on the big screen twice and has also been adapted into a TV series. The 2017 version, with its strong visual style, is more in line with the tastes of today’s audience; the famous actor Kenneth who directed and acted himself. Kenneth Branagh’s famous detective Hercule Poirot is also very likable. The 1974 version, when watched 40 years later, is full of a strong sense of age, but it is worth the ticket price just to see Ingrid Bergman’s mature acting skills.

The story is a reversal of the “one period, one meeting” of train passengers. If “Stranger on a Train” uses the characteristics of strangers to eliminate the connection between murders, then “Murder on the Orient Express” does the opposite. The train turns into a complete secret room, each passenger carries their own secrets, but they all have proof of exoneration, forcing us to re-examine the encounters and strangers in the train. No man is an island, no matter the original work or the film, it seems to imply that what connects people is often the misfortune and tragedy of the world. If the logic of how the world works is so cruel, does the distinction between good and evil still matter?

2007 “The Darjeeling Limited” The Darjeeling Limited
Director Weiss. Wes Anderson (Wes Anderson) is a master figure in the current film industry. He not only has a distinctive style in terms of aesthetics or technology, but also has a unique narrative style. More importantly, he can always use retro and avant-garde image language to evoke the aftertaste in the hearts of the audience. deep swings.

In 2007, “Darjeeling Co., Ltd.” inherited the theme of the previous “The Royal Tenenbaums” (The Royal Tenenbaums, 2001), telling the story of how a family that has been torn apart overcomes the various inner entanglements of family members and reunites their feelings. This time the scene moved to a train journey across India. The three brothers who were usually estranged hoped to rekindle the friendship between brothers through this journey. As a result, after a series of accidents, the three were kicked off the train and unfortunately fell into desolation. strange land. However, although everything started from scratch, the three found their way back in the journey and reconnected with each other. The absurd farce of the three people on the train and the ending of being forced to get off the train hinted at the reason for the estrangement between the three, and getting back on the train at the end of the play represented a new start for each other, which is a typical Weiss. Fairy Tales by Wes Anderson.

1999 “Railway Man” Railway Man (ぽっぽや)
When talking about the train, in addition to thinking of the train itself, the “station” usually occupies a key place. Whether it is leaving or arriving, a big city station or a remote platform, the moment of getting off the train and entering the station will always touch the hearts of every passenger. If the train is a movement that symbolizes wandering, then the station is a reassuring stability. In a sense, the train will be delayed from time to time, but the station will always wait at the beginning or end. Regardless of the purpose of entering the station, whether the mood is uplifting or melancholy, there is a moment in life that must arrive at the station to welcome the joy and sorrow ahead.

“Railway Man” combines the stability of the station with the protagonist’s life. He sticks to the post of station man for decades. The ruthless time took away everything in his life bit by bit, life and death, the only constant was the station and his responsible figure. Rather than being an inhuman workaholic, the hero is more like fighting against the impermanence of fate with his daily routine work. Man will never be able to conquer the sky, all solidity will eventually disappear, and the things that the protagonist insists on at the end of the play will eventually disappear, but the figure of the railwayman who once stood in the heavy snow is eternal.

In this film adapted from the French sci-fi comic of the same name, it presents another imaginative perspective on the independent space of the train—the train seems to be a self-contained independent world, but it is also a microcosm of society. Different levels of carriages represent different classes . The people in the world seem to be unable to get rid of the mark imprinted on us by the capitalist society. “Doomsday Train” expands this observation infinitely, and frames the story in a more extreme setting: that is the post-apocalyptic world, a never-ending train becomes the last parasite of human civilization, and each carriage has its own shoulders. The functions needed for the train to maintain life also maintain the upper and lower class structures through the division of carriages, and supply the labor for the train to move forward.

When the lower class people in the last car finally couldn’t bear the long-term oppression, they stood up to resist and moved forward to the first class car one by one. In addition to seeing high-tech equipment, they also saw the luxury of the upper class. They even discovered that the so-called “revolution” How on earth should people choose their future when it is nothing more than a well-crafted illusion? The whole film uses metaphors to raise the most fundamental question about the awareness of “give me freedom or give me death”.