2hrs 30mins
Dir: Mike Leigh
Starring: Timothy Spall and Dorothy Atkinson

A film charting the last 25 years of the life of the English artist J.M.W. Turner

This biographical drama features one contemporary railway scene whereby Mr Turner watches an early steam locomotive thundering along and is inspired to paint ‘Rain Steam and Speed’, though it was not the actual subject of the painting and nor was it claimed to be. This used the working replica of Robert Stephenson’s 1830-built Liverpool & Manchester Railway 2-2-0 locomotive No.9 Planet from the Manchester Museum of Science and Industry, complete with open carriages and period footplate crew. It was filmed on the Llangollen Railway because it crucially ran east-west. Director Mike Leigh wanted the sun setting behind the train so as to replicate the conditions Turner had painted and had only one chance to get the shot right because the train had to be returned the next day. That night luck prevailed and there was a glowing sunset and the evocative scene in the film works rather well.

Full Steam Ahead. Replica Liverpool & Manchester Railway 2-2-0 locomotive No.9 Planet ambles towards the camera to provide Mr. Turner with inspiration
The evocative back-lit scene with Planet providing much smoke and steam, as well as plenty of hissing and panting. Note the period footplate crew.