Could Italo High Speed Train be a Cinema Paradiso on Rails?
Hang out the bunting folks, Italy has finally embraced the age of High Speed Rail with the launch this week of Italo, the first privately run High Speed train service in Europe. This comes only a few months after the launch of the new Thello sleeper trains in Italy.
The service, run by NTV, sprints from Turin to Salerno (in Campania) in a blistering 6 hours and 22 minutes, stopping off in Milan, Bologna, Florence, Rome and Naples en route, while another branch will connect Venice and Florence five times daily in a mere 2 hours 5 mins.
For now the line operates between Milan and Rome, with routes from Rome to Venice and Turin to Salerno being added later in the year.
Somewhat incredulously, prices are pretty reasonable too, with introductory offers starting from around 30 Euros for a single journey from Milan to Rome or 20 Euros from Florence and Rome. Do those crazy I-tal-i-yuns know what they’ve unleashed I wonder? Affordable, High Speed rail in Europe, who’d have thunk it?
To anyone who cherishes romantic notions of roving on the Italian rails, this seems impressive enough, but wait, there’s more tricks up its shiny, red and black TGV sleeves.
It has a cinema on board.
Ya’know, especially for those of you who may tire of gazing out at the scrolling vistas of one of Europe’s most eye-candy-tastic countries.
Naturally this got me to wondering what would be the ideal film programme to curate for the journey? Just a few weeks ago a New Orleans-based film producer contacted me, under my aegis as social meejah henchman for the good folks at the Train Chartering Company, about the tantalising prospect of staging a film festival on the American rails.
It’s yet to come good, but there’s no harm in doing a little advance planning I always say (you what chief? Just when do you ever say that? Oh yeah, just then.) So here are my suggestions for the inaugural Italo Film Festival:
1. La Dolce Vita
Obvious I know, but we could scarcely ignore Fellini’s prized paen to love and life a Roma for this reason. See also La Strada, the Bicycle Thieves, 8 and a Half etc.
2. Death in Venice
Thomas Mann’s angsty treatise on obsession, guilt, writer’s block and tortured sexuality would be sure to stir up some atmospheric yearnings for those leaving Venice’s misty canals behind…
3. Don’t Look Now
…And this little baby would certainly crank up the tension further. Time to don those creepy red anoraks in earnest trainspotters!
Seems entirely appropriate no? Maybe the train staff could even re-enact some of the chase scenes on those curvaceous (insert those Italy is well sensuous clichés here) Neopolitan bends? Or maybe we could simply tie Keanu Reeves to the roof and see if it changes his perennially gormless facial expressions for once?
5. Source Code
OK, maybe the fragility of human life and destiny is not ideally conveyed with a film about a horrifically inevitable train crash while you’re sitting on one yourself, but, hey it has BOOM factor.
It may lay on the syrupy, sentiments like a Gelateria generously dousing your Cornetto with enough strawberry sauce to sink an armada of gondolas, but there’s no denying this film’s indulgent charm in celebrating both the early French pioneers of movie making and the golden era of the rail travel. Look out for that pesky steam engine hurtling its way towards the screen in 3D though!
7. Cinema Paradiso
An equally sickly cinematic confection which plucks shamelessly at the old heart strings, but still a charming enough slice of Southern Italian movie theatre nostalgia nonetheless.
8. Night Train to Lisbon
You’ll have to wait a bit for this one, not due out til early 2013. Jeremy Irons and Bruno Ganz star in the adaptation of Pascal Mercier’s cult novel about a mild-mannered teacher suddenly who takes an impetuous sleeper train ride in search of an enigmatic author.
Which films would you propose and why? Don’t be shy, tell us with a comment below!
Full info on prices, routes can be found on Italo’s website, alongside details of their actual cinema programme. This includes two films a week. Those programmed over the coming weeks are an intriguing mix of Hollywood and lesser-known homegrown movies, including Green Zone, A Serious Man, Quo Vadis Baby, Whatever Works and Sofia Coppola’s Somewhere.
Want to read more about trains in Italy? Check out this post on the new Thello Paris to Italy sleeper service.