Camargue, un chef de gare, aide autant qu'il le peut les juifs à fuir les zones occupées par les nazis, pendant la Seconde Guerre Mondiale. Ces résistants les font traverser cette frontière entre deux France afin qu'ils ne fassent pas déporter, ils organisent également des sabotages d'opérations prévues par les allemands et transmettent des informations précieuses au QG londonien. Ce groupe de héros s'appelle la "Résistance Fer".
The Battle of the Rails was the first French movie made about the Resistance after the end of the Second World War. The primary concern of the first half of the film is to show how French railway workers sabotaged the Nazi war effort in vanquished France. The second half of the film shifts the focus to the Resistance's attempts to delay German troop reinforcements being sent by rail to the Normandy front during the D-Day landings.
The film's portrayal of the occupation is very telling: ordinary French citizens are shown working together against the Germans and are, on the whole, brave, steadfast and united. The Resistance is shown as receiving the whole-hearted support of the populace. There is no mention of the often bitter political and tactical divisions within the Resistance. Nor is there any focus on the very widespread and quite willing collaboration with the Boche, which was a much more common and essential feature of the Occupation. Like The Sound of Music, which portrays the very incorrect picture, that most Austrians were against the Anschluss, this film conveniently ignores the reality, that a large part of the populace of occupied France was more than willing to become major players in the new "Empire", a desire thwarted, for the most part, by the Germans themselves, who had no intention of letting France become the equal player she wanted to be in the New Order.
Interestingly enough, the French description of this film (above) as taken from a major French film site gives the overall impression, that the film is mostly about the efforts of the Resistance to help Jews flee from Nazi-controlled France. Not only is this not the focus of the film, it is a modern-day whitewash of the reality, that most of France's Jews not only ended up in camps in the East, but that the co-operation of the Vichy regime and the populace as a whole, was of major significance in accomplishing the round-up and deportation of Jews in unoccupied France! Petain himself was an enthusiastic supporter of their deportation and, until the occupation of southern France in response to the American invasion of North Africa in 1943, the French police was the sole instrument of the roundup of Jews in Vichy, the preventer of their escape, and the willing accomplice in their "resettlement" on trains to the gas chambers of Sobibor, Treblinka and Birkenau. That a "current" description of the film from French sources attempts to whitewash these facts some 70 years later shows how divisive this truth of French history is for many in a country where frightful anti-Semitic incidents are on the rise and an honest examination of France's role in the "occupation" and the Holocaust are often avoided.
DVD-R is in French with switchable English and Spanish subtitles. Approx. 81 mins. + a 16 min. contemporary newsreel.
PLEASE NOTE THAT SWITCHABLE (SOFT) SUBTITLES WILL NOT SHOW UP WHEN VIEWING THE SAMPLE BELOW. IF YOU SEE SUBTITLES, THEN THEY ARE HARD-ENCODED (meaning, they cannot be turned off when viewing the film):