Railway Sleepers Screen 88 of 4 reviews

Railway Sleepers

2017

Railway Sleepers Poster
  • The result is beguiling: a lullaby of sorts, it seduces with its rhythm, while every once in a while, a sudden, odd flash stirs us to alertness. . . . Chidgasornpongse leaves his film open-ended, but one of the lines that refers to the king’s ambitions, as expressed by the mysterious inspector—“to civilize and to centralize”—has a bitter tinge to it, a reminder that the colonizing past has left its mark on the lush terrain we have been watching from the passing trains.

  • The results are marvelous. Through a succession of static shots that almost never leave the inside of a train, Railway Sleepers takes us on a seemingly endless ride across Thailand. The fluid montage and the steady, perpetual pulse of the train engender a viewing experience soothing like few others. Thus lulled, it’s a delight to alternately admire the gorgeous scenery and observe the manifold people and activities that unfold in front of, and seemingly oblivious to, the camera.

  • There is something inherently cinematic in the spectacle of railway travel, as in a universally recognisable moment in Railway Sleepers when we draw alongside another train passing on a parallel track, the camera coming close to the passengers within before the train diverts slowly away, disappearing down its own track.

  • Let it be said, this is a very demanding film. Its maker, Sompot Chidgasornpongse, does not make it evident exactly what he's after or what he wants from his viewer, at least not until very late in the game. But I think that if one goes into Railway Sleepers prepared to afford it the patience required, there is quite a lot to glean from this well-observed, unusual documentary.

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