July 18, 2009

A Trans-Europ Masterpiece

Trans-Europ-Express (1966, Alain Robbe-Grillet)

I'll admit I was a bit apprehensive about watching this one. I feared that it would be very difficult to get into and that I would be intimidated by it. What I expected to see and what I actually saw were two radically different things, thankfully. Trans-Europ-Express is one of the most entertaining films I've ever had the pleasure of seeing. I was sitting on the edge of my seat for the entire 91 minute runtime. It's an original, in-your-face, middle finger to genre conventions. This film covers nearly every single genre of film. It's action-packed, suspenseful, mysterious, dramatic, erotic, and even funny. It is also an extremely intelligent film, ambitious and adventurous without going overboard. I definitely spotted elements used by writer/directors such as Charlie Kaufman and Richard Kelly, who make genre-bending films similar to this one.

The film has two stories. One is about a three filmmakers riding the Trans-Europ-Express and trying to come up with an idea for a film. The other story, the best story, is their film. This is the most ingenious and clever usage of the "film within a film" concept that I have seen. This film not only breaks the fourth wall, it destroys every single brick on the damned thing.

There's really nothing for even the strictest film critics to complain about here. Every piece in the puzzle fits perfectly. The acting is superb, particularly that of Jean-Louis Trintignant, who plays Elias, the antihero of the film within the film. The film is beautifully shot. The fact that it is in black and white adds to the intrigue and the beauty. The musical score is outstanding, and the somewhat exaggerated sound effects compliment the film's style perfectly.

Trans-Europ-Express completely disproves the idea that art films can't be any fun. It's brilliant, witty, original, stylish, and extremely exciting. Anyone with even the slightest interest in film should see this. A glance at the IMDb page for the film reveals that the film has a 7.6 average with only 178 votes. That simply will not do. This film deserves a bigger audience. It's simply one of the greatest films I've ever seen. It will debut in my top fifteen, and could even go up in my rewatch. I am extremely grateful to two users on IMDb's Film General board: JesusPlayingGolf, for telling me to watch it, and fake_username, for uploading it onto Google Video. 10/10


  1. Nice review. Sounds interesting. Where did you see this?

  2. Wait, I mean give me the link.

  3. It is amazing. I'll warn you that the "rape fantasy" scenes are a bit much. I felt sorry for the woman, even though she is a willing participant and she's getting paid. It's very infrequent, though, and not really a flaw as much as it is a part of the style.

    I'm going to PM it to you right now on IMDb.

    By the way, thank you very much for commenting. <3