France, 24 min
It is night. The steady noise of the train lulls the travellers. At dawn, the carriage springs to life; people emerge from their slumber as the Trans-Siberian Railway moves on through snow-covered landscapes. As a sound engineer trained at La Fémis, François Abdelnour has created a visually stunning film about a journey with no purpose, a mysterious quest whose interpretation is left to the vagaries of our imaginations.
Vague glimmers merge in the night. We join passengers on the Trans-Siberian Railway as they enter an abstract space-time. The universe that François Abdelnour portrays in Les naufragés appears so hermetic, despite some signs that provide clues, that we proceed through guesswork: the regular pounding sound of wagons on the tracks, ghostly towns where we stop to pause for breath before continuing this journey without purpose into the heart of darkness. The travellers sleep or meet up to smoke on the platforms of the coaches, a swollen polyphony of Russian words that appears to express panic or regret. An old woman begins to sing, improvising a dance appearing from the other side of reality. At dawn, faces and landscapes become more defined. Eyes stare into the void, with evident stupor that comes not just from sleep. An ocean appears through the window when the movement of the train – treated like a collective heartbeat – slows. Yet it is barely more than a break in this mysterious wandering whose interpretation is left to the vagaries of our imagination.