EL TREN EXPRESO (1982)
This 1982 short, recently released on DVD by Impacto Films in Spain with LABIOS ROJOS (1960), is an obscure but welcome addition to the ever increasing Jess Franco-Lina Romay canon. A charming adaptation of a poem it is credited to Rosa Maria Almirall, the birth name of Lina Romay. The poem is read by Spanish actress Laura Arias, not Romay as some reviews maintain, although there is some tonal similarities to Romay’s familiar voice.
Based on a poem by Ramón de Campoamor, a nineteenth-century Astuian poet and written in the high Romantic style of the late 1800s it deals with the melancholy train journey of a lovelorn traveler. The poem was previously adapted into a feature film by Leon Klimovsky in 1955, starring Jorge Mistral. I haven’t yet seen the film but according to Nzoog is has a very good reputation.
The Klimovsky film was an Argentinean-Spanish co-production and used classical music by Chopin and others as a background. Daniel J. White (credited as Pablo Villa) scored the 1983 Romay-Franco production with cues familiar from his scores for other Golden Films Internacional Productions directed by Franco in the 1980s. Since Romay’s real name is given as director this is presumably her work with perhaps Franco helping out as cinematographer, the DP is credited as “Juan Almirall” a frequent Jess Franco beard. White’s music is very delicate, almost childlike, and gives the film an oneiric quality, like a dream of a memory. The poem is narrated over images from travel brochures, vintage posters and some live-actions shots, detailing luxurious interiors of 19th Century coaches. The last line of the poem is repeated several times, giving the sense of the continuous rhythm of train travel. The editing, also credited to Almirall, is very effective in drawing the viewer into the world of the poem.
(C) Robert Monell, 2015, thanks to Nzoog for additional information.