Trains in film

I love trains. Travelling by train is a gift: you can get up and wander, stretch your legs out under the table, charge your phone and laptop if you need, all while enjoying the scenery as it flits by. I would travel by train much more often if it were a sensible financial choice. Unfortunately, as much as I’m a Green party member and bit of a hippie, I don’t want to spend four times as much to go three times as slowly as on a plane. Until the UK fixes our broken public transport system, I’ll either be driving or flying to the furthest away places.

For when you’re not on a train and wish you were, or are on a train and fancy some train-based entertainment, here are five films set on trains:



5. Murder on the Orient Express

If I have one regret about watching this, it’s that I knew Johnny Depp was a wife beater and I went anyway. I feel bad and I won’t be seeing Fantastic Beasts.

The cinematography is incredible. The beauty of this film is in its settings, in Istanbul and then weaving through the European mountains. The plot leaves a lot to be desired, the acting is a mite cheesy, and the pace is dreadful – we spend more than half the running time being introduced to each individual character only for the resolution to come about quick-smart, with hardly any investigation on Poirot’s part – but if you had two hours to kill you could do worse.



4. The Polar Express

A lovely, lighthearted Christmas kids’ film. Tom Hanks in a title role and a surprisingly engaging story line. Definitely one for when you’re on the way home for the holidays.



3. The Darjeeling Limited

Wes Anderson can be a bit hit or miss, but I do love this tale of three brothers travelling through India to locate their estranged mother. It is absolutely beautiful, as are all of his films, and the plot is just detailed enough to keep you from switching off. If you can get through this without wanting to book a train journey through India, you’re a stronger person than I.



2. Train to Busan

Zombies! On a train! How could this be anything but great? You know what’s going to happen from the first moment to the last, but that doesn’t take away from the enjoyment of this remarkable Korean flick. I’d have loved it regardless, but the addition of quick zombies à la 28 Days Later just takes it over the top.



1. Snowpiercer

This is one of my favourite films of all time, not just of films set on trains. Chris Evans busts his way through a class-obsessed society made up of the last of humanity, kicking ass and taking names. That the society lives on a train that takes one year to travel around a world which has succumbed to snowpocalypse is the cherry on top. Tilda Swinton as evil Mason is a delight. Director Bong Joon-ho gave us the majestic Okja a few years later. If you haven’t watched Snowpiercer, you’re doing it wrong.