Crossing the line

Il Passaggio Della Linea
Director: Pietro Marcello

Italy, 2007, 60 min., documentary
Crossing the Line is a journey across Italy set to the rhythm of long-distance express trains. Long abandoned to a destiny of slow decay, they cross the Italian peninsula from South to North and back again in a trip spanning night and day. It is a succession of landscapes, buildings, faces, dialects, voices and lives which blend together aboard the trains.

Inside the bare carriages, the lives of the passengers, who often speak different languages, intersect. They are mostly commuters travelling North, young people, foreigners, temporary workers who travel long distances using the cheapest and most available means of transportation.

Outside the train, through the dirty and steamed up windows, we see landscapes that have been painfully devastated by man and landscapes whose arrogant beauty is still intact.

Inside, the passage of time is marked only by changes in the light falling along the narrow aisles, revealing tired and listless faces. The lives of the train passengers seem confined to this space, both a meeting point and a solitary place, suspended in time. They are held in continuous tension between the past and the future, between what has already been and what will be. 

Watching Italy go by from a train window is a very old man: ninety year-old Arturo. In the pockets of his creased jacket, he carries the memories of an entire existence. Slumped in the grubby seat of an anonymous carriage, he describes his long life while his eyes seem to gaze far away. His is a tale of political and social engagement, but above all, the search for freedom and autonomy based on the understanding of how fragile life is. This man will never get off the train. The train is his home, and his journey has no final destination. 

The train routes, the stations, the carriages, the tracks and the old rail carriers take the trains through the fog of the plains and inside the gorges of narrow mountain valleys, caressing the coastlines ablaze with sunshine, and beyond. They take the train beyond its purpose as a means of transportation, to its apparent death when the train is swallowed by the ferries of the Straits of Messina and, deprived of its movement, it remains suspended, waiting for a new journey and a new train line to discover.
Section: Train time

Screenplay: Pietro Marcello

Dir. of Photography: Daria D'Antonio

Music: Mirko Signorile, Marco Messina

Producer: Nicola Giuliano ir Francese Cima