Monday, April 09, 2007


I recently re-watched L'Ultimo treno della notte (Night Train Murders, Aldo Lado - 1975), as it was recently reissued by Neo Publishing with a very interesting interview and audio commentary from Aldo Lado himself.

It is fairly obvious the film is structured in three parts:
the train journey,
and Verona
(Munich and Verona being, interestingly enough, twin cities).

But the train journey itself is divided in two distinct sections: day (1st train) and night (2nd train). And the night part is built in almost perfect symmetry to the day part:

Aboard the first train, there's light and natural colors,
the two girls are travelling on the platform and free to move around,
they are surrounded by a lot of people as the train is pretty full,
the disturbation caused by the two thugs is perceived more as some fun than a real threat (the girls joke with the two guys, even though they're not always at ease),
the woman with the veil is led by the thugs (when she's 'raped' in the toilet and lets go).

Aboard the 2nd train, darkness and cold blue and red monochrome colors prevail,
the two girls are isolated in a compartment which turns out to become their jail,
there seems to be nobody else on the train but the two girls, the woman with the veil and the two thugs (apart from the peeping tom showing up later),
the two guys' behaviour is now a real threat to the girl's lives,
and they are led by the woman with the veil, who obviously controls the situation.

The latter part of the train journey is the exact negative of the former, as if Aldo Lado wanted to reinforce that impression the viewer gets of a parallel dimension, of a world behind the mirror where there is no limit to cruelty and violence.

Knowing Aldo Lado's tendency to use cinema as a way to express a political point of view on the social situation of Europe in the 70s, needless to say he was trying to tell us something here.

L'ultimo treno della notte is one of the most striking and interesting genre films of the 70s. Find it here (FR) or there (US).
Read more about it from this blog here.

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