Duration: 118 min.
Director: Pietro Germi
Producer: Carlo Ponti for Enic
Photograph: Leonida Barboni
Editing: Dolores Tamburini
Music: Carlo Rustichelli
Scene: Carlo Egidi
Performers and characters
Peter Germi: Andrea Marcocci
Luisa DellaWalnutas: Sara Marcocci
Sylva Koscinaas Giulia Marcocci
Saro Urzì : Gigi Liverani
Carlo Giuffrè as Renato Borghi
Speziale: Marcello Marcocci
Edoardo Nevolaas the little Sandro Marcocci
Riccardo Garrone as Marcello's friend
Gualtiero De Angelisas Andrea Marcocci
Dhia Cristiani: Sara Marcocci
Lydia Simoneschias Giulia Marcocci
Manlio Busoni: Gigi Liverani
Giuseppe Rinaldias Marcello Marcocci
Renato Turias Marcello's friend
Mario Besesti: Commissioner
Christmas night. Train driver Andrea, returning from his hard work, makes the usual evening stop at the inn for a glass of wine and meet up with his friends. In the 1950s, the inn was the meeting place of people, especially the elderly, to spend time in company and to exchange opinions and news. Although his friend Gigi, a train driver himself, has already left, Andrea indulges in wine, drugs, the poor in those years. It will be his son Sandrino who brings him home. Back at the top of the house, he discovers that there is no one, because his daughter Giulia, pregnant, had felt ill and they had all gone to her house. In a flashback we discover that Andrea had often clashed with Giulia and forced her to marry the man she did not like, but she was pregnant. The expected son will be born dead, a motive in contrast in the couple; Giulia will not be able to heal her marriage and will eventually leave her husband. Even the other adult son who dreams of a life different from that of his father but who does nothing to succeed in having it, will rebel to his father and leave the house when he, during a furious quarrel, blames his wife, a typical housewoman, submissive and lightning rod family tensions to be the cause of the family's misfortunes. Next to Andrew will remain his wife and little Sandro, who while loving unconditionally the father will also cause for reproaches for his ill-success in school. Andrea will feel increasingly lonely and disappointed with the only outburst of his friend Gigi with which confides during grueling rounds of train services. It will be during one of those long journeys that Andrea will invest a suicide throwing herself under a train. While obviously upset and will remain exempt from responsibility in the onward journey, dazzled by the Sun, will not see a stop signal and narrowly avoided a train wreck: the bad reputation of the drinker will assign the train direction secondary assignments and humiliating for him, which had always been proud of his work. Andrea, upset by the episode for being the cause of death is unknown, also involuntary, will begin to close in upon themselves not believing more in the friendship of his fellow railwaymen from which he felt abandoned during the investigation followed the incident. For this on the occasion of a strike he will continue to work as a scab and finger marked desperately defended by small Sandro. The serious heart disease that will hit the troubled life of Andrea will be an opportunity for the rebuild of the suffering around him. Andrea on Christmas Eve will have around him the affection of his children and his friends and he will understand that the cause of his troubles was the intransigence and its closure in the world that is rapidly changing. Will resume playing guitar, companion of the evenings spent in merriment at the Inn, to show his love to his wife that he never abandoned, but its so death will seize.
Through the life of the railwayman Germi gives us a sociological insight of the popular and proletarian Italy of the fifties just exiting the Second World War. The signs of those family and social problems began to emerge, and to this day, the rapidly changing Italian life began to be felt. In fact, there are the themes of contrast between generations, of the struggles of trade unions over harsh working conditions, the change of moral values to which Andrea, an authoritarian man linked to the past, does not know and does not want to adapt.
The world is rapidly changing, like his trains, around Andrew, but he doesn't realize it.
" As Mario Sesti observes, the railwayman can be compared to the other great cinematic monument of melodrama and realism, Rocco and his brothers, two films that face a real hand-to-hand with what can be considered the deepest myth of the unconscious, of the history and social structure of this country: the unity of the family."
The whole thing is treated in an emotional way by the director, who leveraging the feelings of the spectators more than on their reason involves them and makes them participate. The film has been accused of sentimentality and of using melodramatic tone, but it is not understood, especially by those ideologically biased critics, for whom Germi's expressive and political freedom was uncomfortable and too casual, that this is the vision of the Andrea's world that lives and judges the society of his time in a instinctive and strongly passionate way.
The story, although full of feelings, in the end does not appear melancholy, but on the contrary, also thanks to the screenwriter, Alfredo Giannetti and the great and bloodthirsty interpretation of Pietro Germi, is sincere and authentic.
Ermanno Olmi is particularly passionate about the judgment of the film:
September 1961, in Rome. From Rosati to via Veneto. Germi always found him there at the bar, sitting in front of a glass of wine. It was not an artist's pose: it was really in his nature to be silent thinking about sipping good wine. If I hadn't known he was a famous director and even an actor I would have said, instinctively, he could be a railwayman. Because he reminded me of my father with my mind as a child: he was also a railwayman. Solid people, good drinkers but strictly sober in service. That September day, it was Germi who addressed my greeting. Until then, I often met him there, but I had never dared bother him. He told me that he had seen the place, my film that had been to the Venice Film Festival and that he liked it.
I confided to him the great emotion (and tears !) for his railwayman.
But beyond the sublime grace of the work of a rare poetic power! there was a particular reason for me, which made me love his film in a special way: it was about my own life and that of my father who had gone through the same events as the railwayman.