Two films, rail transport, and the city as organism

A couple of movies I’ve gotten around to watch recently are fine examples of promotion of place.

In The Darjeeling Limited, directed by Wes Anderson, the story happens mostly in the artsy interiors of an Indian locomotive with the same name as the movie’s.  The train’s paint colors are charmingly of old world red and blue that match uniforms of the staff.  The travelers’ soft orange luggage set reminds one of Vuitton, who I noticed on the movie credits did the styling of the train interiors.  The cinematography provides stunning views of the Indian countryside.  The viewers trail the actors as observers of the places where they stop and wander.

The train itself reminds me of Manila’s own post WWII rail transport plying the Manila-Bicol route.  The train’s so old.  Is it the original one, just repainted over the years?

The Darjeeling Limited is a good business model on which to plan the revival of rail transport in the Philippine countryside.  The project can be spearheaded by the Department of Tourism, working with the Philippine Railways and the LGUs along with local designers and artists.  The Philippine movie industry can further boost the image of rail travel by doing similar films as the Darjeeling Limited.  My point is, there are if we expand our creativity a bit exciting possibilities for the revival of rail transport in the country.

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The second movie is Woody Allen’s Manhattan which stars the young Mariel Hemmingway, Meryl Streep, and Diane Keaton.  The film showcases downtown Manhattan’s iconic places and tries to blend into the protagonist’ story it’s struggle to maintain a sense of place despite the redevelopment.

Theorists in urban planning talk of the city as an organism, a living being, changing through time. This view is brought forward in the film.  The city as it tries to reconcile divergent forces within itself are mirrored in the conflicted struggles of its dwellers who are the film’s characters. This is heightened by the story’s rendition in black and white.  The ending of the story is that the main characters decide to stay in the City despite their feelings of betrayal from their significant others, because they see that their future is in the the city, they’re still drawn to it.  One could surmise that the characters believe themselves as Manhattan personified.

I find similarity with the story of Metro Manila.  Despite this mega City’s garbage, traffic, and what have you, true Metro Manilenos stay; reconciled with the belief that the City’s and their struggles are one, conflicts can’t be forever, and that on some days they do have sunshine.

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