Film: 8302

Railways | 1960 | Sound | B/W

Synopsis:

Steam on the Ohrid Line near Skoptje, or Skopje, Yugoslavia, now Macedonia

Close-up of narrow gauge railway tracks, the engine's chimney billows out thick black smoke. Side view shot of locomotive and three carriages as it passes a steep bank. Shot from under a small railway bridge as the engine passes over. Train slowly climbs up the track against the background of the Macedonian countryside. Close-up of connecting rods and pistons. The train moves into town, the steaming whistle announcing its arrival. A train laden with timber passes stationary locomotive and two rail-workers who are saluted by rail guard on board the moving train. The train pulls into the station platform at Kicevo. Front shot of the small Kicevo railway station building. Railway guard in office connects his telephone to appropriate exchange socket.

Close-up of engine number and manufacturers plaque, revealing Berlin 1917 as its place and year of origin. The locomotive has worked the 167 kilometre Gostivar-Ohrid route for 50 years. The locomotive is filled with water from water tank. While this goes on a railway worker opens up the front of the engine and scoops out the excess soot. In the railway yard men work on railway carriages. The locomotive pulls out of the railway yard (hangar?). A series of shots focusing on the locomotives carriages, both freight and passenger, follows. Passenger carriages, like the locomotive, are very old and basic, 'a museum on wheels'.

Rail-guard pushes empty carriage to be linked to other carriages. Locomotive reverses and is fastened onto the carriages. People board onto the train, some in peasant dress and possibly of Albanian background. From a hole in the wall, a railway attendant pulls out a little portable sign and opens the door. Another attendant walks up to the engine driver, waiting in his locomotive, with a piece of paper to sign. The engine driver signs the paper and places it under his hat. The track is switched on and the signal is given for the train to depart by the rail-guard, who salutes as the train passes. Slowly the train pulls out. A rail attendant steps onto the train with a child in his arms. Passengers look out of the carriages as the train pulls away. The train passes over a small river. Close-up of the engine room, coal being loaded into the engines furnace, a temperature or pressure gauge (?).

Train passes village with minaret in the background. People sit in the open carriage looking out into the hills. Inside the rail-carriage peasants (women in headscarves) and others pass the time: A young woman rests her head on friend's lap; a young man and woman chat looking out of the window; a man reads Serbian (Belgrade) newspaper, 'Politika Ekspres'; and a young woman gazes out of the window whilst munching on a sandwich. Sitting in one of the outside carriages a railway worker eats soup from his can. Inside a carriage a man places wood into the burning stove and positions his pan in order to heat his food.

The passing train sends a herd of black pigs running behind a house next to the track. Camera focuses onto a young shy girl, who nervously smiles as the camera lingers on her. Close-up of a rabbit looking out from a passenger's bag. A little boy lies down on the seats in the carriage. Elsewhere in the carriage a man sleeps lying nearly fully stretched on the seat. Close-up of a woman in sunglasses looking out of the train. A poster of the Beatles hangs in the doorway of the carriage. Next to it stands a conscript soldier. Shots of the countryside. The trains draws to a halt by the roadside to pick up a coffin from three crouching peasants. Overhead a flock of birds circle (vultures?). Close-up of coffin in open carriage.

The conductor checks the passenger's tickets. In one of the open carriages a man smokes a cigarette. The train passes over a small river and a group of peasants. The conductor continues his ticket inspection, ending up at the open carriage near the locomotive. At the back of the train four men sit in open carriage. The train has stopped by a stream in order to take the necessary water before continuing the journey.

The train journey continues at 10 km/h in a small bridge and up the narrow track. Rail track runs near a road which has car driving up into the wooded hills. A man on horseback rides next to and past the slowly moving train. The road and track run parallel to the shores of Lake Ohrid and here a van passes the train as does a one horse-drawn cart, carrying two peasant men (possibly ethnic-Albanian). A bicyclists overtakes the train on the nearby road.

Long shot of view of train in open countryside. The train stands derailed. Rail worker places flat board to ease the locomotive back onto the track. The locomotive reverses and successfully completes the manoeuvre. This derailment is something that frequently occurs - shots of derailed moving carriages.

The train heads up the line, people with their baggage jump off the slow moving train. A man with duffel bag runs to catch the moving train and jumps on. Front shot of train moving up the hill. The steel funnel of locomotive is burnt off by worker. Shots of old scrap locomotive. It pulls into Ohrid Station. Close-up of Ohrid Station sign. Man takes photograph of group of railway employees. From the carriage windows various people look out: A young woman, ethnic-Albanian (wearing white skull-cap) smoking cigarette; two young girls; a man adjusts his radio whilst smoking cigarette and an older man in fur cap looks on.

Long shot of train moving in the hilly countryside. Peasant women in traditional dress dance the 'kolo'. Seeing the train they stop to wave and run to greet the train driver, who has now stopped the train. They offer him a drink (wine?) from the amphora which he accepts. Having taken a few gulps he hands the drink back to the women and sets the train into motion again. The women wave him off, as do the group of children (most in traditional dress) who stand alongside the track. A peasant with pitchfork on his shoulder waves to the train. The train passes an elderly woman, dressed in black, who leads her cow across the tracks. From behind, the train is followed by a large group of children, running and waving. Three boys look on as the train passes them. Shot of children running behind the train again.

Construction workers walk down a path in the hills. The train pulls slowly away - back-view shot. End title - 'Kraj' - on still of train.

A record of the Ohrid narrow gauge line. The line dated back to the days of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, with locomotives coming from Berlin in 1917. This delightful film gives an excellent impression of a little country line and the charmingly informal nature of its operations. But a new road was built into the hills and the railway came to an end in 1967.


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