Tuesday, 28 April 2009

The Last Armoured Train, Black Eagle and The Good Cop

Wednesday has been a solid work day with almost all Christmas cards completed, several with (for me brief letters. One trip to post these later afternoon was also used to buy some fruit and some inexpensive still bottled water, some prawns, and fresh veg. Early evening seems to be a good time for although it is the week before Christmas there is no indication of the customary rush which used to be experienced in greater London and Sunderland Morrison's. The task should be completed in the morning followed by an important afternoon trip and then I can try and relax. There have been two Myspace new friends whose profile and work merits relaxed attention and the ending of seasonal greetings. There are also all those missed birthdays. My equilibrium has been disrupted but do I need want equilibrium any more?

Part of the reason for believing there will be a relaxed few days is the confidence that both the matter which has lasted five years and the more recent concerns re the bank appear to be addressed in such a way that progress has and will continue to be made, hopefully with at least the bank situation being sorted by New Year. I dare not become hopefully about an early resolution of the actual circumstances of the misadventure of the premature and preventable death of my aunt. What is of different concern is the issue of attempted cover up and involving who and at what level?

I have stayed up, half watching cold war meets kung fu nonsense because it was set in Malta, the land of my fathers, so to speak, It is called Black Eagle, after a form of Kung Fu and a vehicle for its exponent Ken Tami. It is a familiar tail of F1 spy plane secret electronics coming down in neutral waters and both sides risking all in clandestine operations to recover the equipment with the Russians, mob handed, and the USA only a magnificent trio involving a priest and multilingual female specialist operator who has to also become a child minder for the sons of the Japanese Kung fu multi talented assassin and recovery man. There is a kind of pretend relationship between the two which is never taken beyond a hint.

Slightly better was a re-showing of the Good Cop in which in keeping with the American mythology of the genre there are two levels of Mafia murdering thieving and gangster, the ones who have codes of honour and gangster integrity recognise that police are only doing their job that is those who cannot be bribed along with the majority of the US justice system from Judges to prison guards and then there are the really bad guards who do the same but have no honour and in this instance it is the brother of the traditional Mafia terrorist. There is also a Marta Hari high class whore who has a soft spot for the good op who gets himself in prison for contempt in order to find out which the various levels of villains is responsible for shooting up his hi fi system. May have the title wrong as research to find out how critics reacted produced One Good Cop and Copland and Good Cop Bad Cop all with different storylines.

I did not expect to find out anything out about what was presented as true story the Russian film The Last Armoured Train. There have been the last Train Home films, Across Canada From Madrid, From Gun Hill and simply the Last Train, also El Ultimo Tren, which does not need to be translated However I was soon on the trail and discovered that the film was originally shown in 2006 as four part series each of 52 mins and is regarded by those interested in Russian cinema as part of the recent new wave with new interest in World War 2 much as in the US and UK we have flocked to Saving Private Ryan or the series Band of Brothers. The core of this film are the characters who successfully and against all manner of odds get the train through to where German army has encircle a Russian army during the first month of the war and the group, with help, enable an honourable retreat. Each of the principal characters has a back story which makes them unlikely to become heroes and heroines Given that this is a film from contemporary Russia it had all the hall marks of the kind of one sided heroic struggle of the people against everyone else which used to be the feature of Stalin culture, in which individual lives are recognised as indispensable for the great good and in the great scheme of things, however having said this the film does not attempt to portray the commanders as soulless and ruthless and the principal characters do not give their lives up willingly, but have a mature understanding of the reality of a war which has only commenced. The leader of the group reacts to the embrace of his new lover at the end of the film, you are alive, with well for the next few days.

I also discovered that there was such a train called the Hurbran used in the Slovakian uprising against the German army in 1944 and as in this film it had too take refuge for a time . The Polish Army also had such a last train at the commencement of World War 2 which had been used in the Polish Soviet War of 1919/21 when they had built 15 new ones after losing 8. This famous survivor was captured when Germany invasion of Poland, and was inspected by Hitler and much photographed. Another armoured train features in a site by Henry Louis Gomez set on "uncovering the truth from the propaganda and dimming memories" of an incident during the last days of the Baptista regime in Cuba. This is the armoured train of Santa Clara. Another article claimed that the Soviet Armoured Trains used in the Great War were used as rear guard weapons because the Germans were better trained. Had I not been so busy I might well have decided to pursue the role of armoured train in World War Two, or its importance in World War 1, something which I cannot recall has ever been a feature of films or documentaries before now. I thought the correct spelling was armoured and then changed when the articles were all under armoured and then changed back when using spell checker,

Wikipedia lists all the armoured train information known for Poland, Russia, Japan Slovakia, Iran, Croatia and France, In 1942 GB used an armoured train for an advance into Siam in an attempt to resist the Japanese advance in Malaya and closer to home an armoured train was used on the Romney Hythe railway as part of coastal defences in WW2.

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