GB / AUS / GER
Dir: Gillian Armstrong
Starring: Cate Blanchett and Michael Gambon
A woman is recruited as a spy and is sent to France to join up with the Resistance movement
Adapted from the novel of the same name by Sebastian Faulks, this wartime drama is set in Vichy, France, during World War II but, despite this, all the trains featured depict post-war traction and BR liveries. The opening shots show ex-LNER K1 Class 2-6-0 No.62005 on a train of six maroon-liveried Mk1’s on the West Highland Line, including a shot of it crossing Glenfinnan Viaduct. The scenes onboard the train, however, could well be an elaborate stage set. These West Highland scenes are followed by a train arriving at Sheffield Park station on the Bluebell Railway behind BR Standard Class 5MT 4-6-0 No.73082 Camelot. Although the smokebox numberplate and the nameplate remain, the cabside number and BR crest on the tender have been painted over in an unusual attempt at hiding their origin. Just visible on the adjacent track as the train arrives is Class 4MT 4-6-0 No.75027, but blink and you will miss it! The Bluebell was then used for one of the biggest scenes in the film, the blowing up of an ammunition train. BR Standard 9F 2-10-0 No.92240 was used on a train complete with wagons carrying armoured vehicles. The explosion, which demolished a couple of balsa wood vans built by the special effects crew, was filmed between Caseford Bridge and Three Arch Bridge, but the aftermath scenes were filmed at Longcross Studios using various mock-ups. As already mentioned, the special effects department built two vans for destruction during this sequence. One was constructed on the frame of a PMV, and the other on that of an open wagon. The PMV had a tilting frame, hydraulically operated to tip up at the moment of explosion. A dummy run was carried out the night before the main take, which required both exploded vans to be rebuilt the following day ready for their second destruction that night! The explosions were so effective that bits of wreckage were being discovered several weeks later, and not all of it on railway land either! Although seevral people found the whole thing rather amusing, many of the local residents were somewhat annoyed by being woken up in the middle of the night by explosions and told the railway in no uncertain terms that ‘if they wished to blow up trains in the middle of the night they should really tell people first’. Two years later the Bluebell were at it again with Head in the Clouds (qv).