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Impossible laughter

A comedy about the Holocaust? It sounds grotesque but it works, and it might turn out to be the unexpected hit of this year's Cannes film festival

By Gudie Lawaetz   June 1998

There was no red carpet at the Cannes film festival for what may turn out to be the most daring film of this year’s selection. Almost unheralded, The Train of Life steamed into the festival, destined to create a stir: a comedy about the Holocaust. Every reason to be apprehensive.

The film, by the French-Romanian Jewish director Radu Mihaileanu (it is only his second) tells the fantastic story of a Jewish village in eastern Europe organising its own fake deportation in an attempt to escape to Palestine via Russia.

The derelict components of a freight train with an old crock…

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