Night on the Galactic Railroad
Review by Charles Peklenk
This subdued film grew from a 1927 fable. It depicts one day in the life of a schoolboy, Giovanni, who works after school to support his mother while his father is away. (Incidentally, for whatever reason, these characters are depicted as cats.) The setting is established slowly and unhurriedly, in motion so deliberate that one can feel the melancholy that pervades Giovanni's life. His inert disposition makes him a favored target of ridicule for his classmates, and after an incident at the town festival that evening, he heads for the fields to watch the stars.
A train from the Galactic Railroad suddenly appears, and Giovanni and his friend Campanella are invited to board this mysterious transport. They tour the sights and encounter other travelers in a series of vignettes, and one is left to ponder the meaning of the strange, unreal images in each alternate world. Toward the end, Giovanni learns a terrible secret about Campanella, and his stone-faced, quiet desperation finally finds its voice.
Parent's Guide Rating:
yellow (parental guidance advised)
There is no sexual innuendo, cursing, or similar objectionable elements in this movie. Almost nothing happens, period. Even your houseplants will probably fall asleep. The unsuspecting slumbering viewer may be awakened by very moving scenes late in the film of a tragedy at sea, and startled to come face to face with the very deep issues of how people face death, the difficulty of love and sacrifice, and the value and purpose of life. The subject matter and scenes will be frightening to most children, but the movie challenges everyone, young or old, to consider how he or she has lived, and how each would face death.
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