Film: 8662

Railways | 1950 | Sound | B/W

Synopsis:

A British film made in the Norwegian mountains about the use of snow ploughs on the Norwegian state railway 1950's


Music. A steam train with snow plough on the front runs towards the camera. Snow and fences in the background. Dark shape of a lone man walking between banks of snow and poles. Lots of smoke against the sky, shadowy buildings, posts and figure of a man. A man shovels snow from the track. Close up of a snow plough, a solid, triangular tool with wings curving upwards and out, linked together at the top by chains. It is being dragged swiftly along on a thick chain by something out of the frame. Snow spurts out on either side.

Slopes of snow-covered mountains, a rail track in the foreground and much black smoke. The British commentator tells us these are the Norwegian mountains between (? Putner and Nieodell?). The camera takes us into a house in the mountains where a balding man in a light tight-fitting shirt and dark trousers reads a paper. The floor is wooden with a striped rug. In the background are shelves with shiny plates and vases and a wall-cloak with a pendulum and next to man's chair is a plant on a lace- covered coffee table. A small boy in a check shirt comes towards the man, and as he looks up the camera pans across to a doorway through which a woman can be seen in a skirt, blouse, apron and headscarf, working at a table. Behind her a girl stirs something. There are shelf racks and light from an electric lamp in the ceiling. The commentator tells us this is the house of the station guard who looks after one of the most crucial sections of the European railroad network. The man walks to the window and watches a steam engine with snow plough pass pulling several goods wagons.

The house is seen from outside, against the snow-covered and rocky mountains. It is low with several small attached outbuildings. Close up of the station guard winding the handle of a shiny black telephone which is attached to the wall on a carved wooden base with a stand for paper. He lifts the handset from a metal stand and checks that the 602 train is running on time. The signal-man he speaks to stands at a switchboard, turning a knob on the wooden casing, above which are rows of electrical plugs. The man walks into the kitchen where the woman stirs a large pot on an oven which has a pipe leading up through an alcove. In the background is a metal sink with a tiled surround and plumbed in taps and in the foreground the edge of another machine with several dials.

Outside, the man mounts a 'rail-cycle' - some good pictures of this - a metal bicycle frame with two wheels designed run on one track and an open triangular structure connecting these to a third wheel running on the other track. The station guard rides this across the mountain slopes crossed by the railway and into a wooden slated tunnel built above the mountainside. A train is shown passing through two similar tunnels, carrying a load of what look like posts, sticking up from the wagons.

Clouds gathering and snow blows fast across the mountain ridges. A high drift of snow piled outside wooden station building. The station guard clambers through the snow with the aid of one ski-pole which he uses to measure the height of drifts. He is next shown on skis stepping across the snow near the rail-way posts. The commentator tells us that the snow is six feet deep. The station guard is shown in close up, snow flecked, in a thick double-breasted coat, collar turned up and a cap with a badge. Orchestra music as he walks through the tunnel on skis. The figure of another man who is climbing a post to make sure the signal apparatus is working. The station guard steps from his skis and enters a wooden building. On the wall is a carving of a woman bending over what is probably a cradle, with very faint writing, possibly a date. The guard telephones headquarters and reports the depth of the snow.

An office with papers and files on the shelves behind a desk where a man is writing. A man in station uniform, with braid and buttons on the cuffs and a cap, hands the report given by the station guard to the first man, the rail inspector. Shot from above of the inspector on the phone, he calls out the 'gang' to fix the problem. The inspector walks over to where the station master points to a white dial in a small wooden box fixed to the wall (barometer?). The rail inspector on the telephone orders two snow-clearing trains and a 'rotary' snow plough. On his left is a chart with many vertical and diagonal intersecting lines drawn on graph paper which he rises to examine as he speaks.

A rotary snow plough emerges from its shed and immediately plunges into snow drifts. Close-up of the front end of the plough as it moves along the track; a large circular wheel attached to the front of a square carriage rotates fast below a head lamp. A man in station uniform peers out from a door in the plough. Closer shot of the spinning plate scattering the snow from the track. The commentator gives the figure of 3,500 horse-power for this machine. Shots of a few carriages drawn behind, some dome-roofed, some open.

Shot of a train fitted in front with a V-shaped plough coming up a track watched by two men with ski poles. Close up as a snow-flecked man hands a piece of paper to the driver who leans down from the cabin. The front of the train is show; a round, ribbed engine, with two chimneys is mounted before the cabin, the door of the cabin the door of which bears the number 169. A man in a long coat signs to a man in station uniform who waves a flag, blows a whistle, and the train sets off again. Shot of the train emerging from a tunnel, a column of black smoke rises against the white landscape as the sun comes out above the clouds on the mountain-tops.

A train drags a large upright metal platform behind it, held by a chain at a forty-five degree angle out from the side of the train to clear the strip next to the track. Five men stand on a strip which runs along half way up this platform.

Another engine with buffers at the front and a 'scraper' plough at the back. The 'scraper' is a high criss-cross structure of metal fanning out on both sides. The commentator explains that its function is to push the snow from the sides back onto the track so that the rotary plough, which had only a small range, can clear this snow.

Shot of the triangular winged plough shown at the beginning of the film. The commentator calls this the track-cleaner, which clears the snow lying lower down quickly, running at forty miles per hour. Rows of buildings almost completely submerged beneath snow drifts. More shots of the rotary coming out of its shed . A man leans down from the cabin to speak to another railwayman. A line of men leaning against a carriage , some in rail uniform, some in caps and overalls holding spades. Close up shot of the scraper from behind; snow pushed down from the sides flowing out of the back of the metal structure onto the track.

The station building with high banks of snow as another plough approaches. This plough has a smaller metal platform attached to the front of the engine at forty-five degrees, pushing the snow diagonally across the track. More shots of the rotar. The 602 train now comes through with a V-shaped plough with wings curving upwards and outwards at the top. Close ups of the driver, the wheels, sunbeams in the smoke, tunnels and mountains. The train arrives at the station. A group of passengers. In the foreground two women in headscarves, one in a fur coat and a child in a hooded coat, all wearing dark glasses, look up to speak to a woman standing on skis on a drift wearing a ski-suit. In the background is another skier and more passengers. The 602 leaves and passengers stick their heads out of windows.


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