Film 308 in the ‘1001 Films to see before you die’ challenge is 1923’s “The Wheel”. Or to give it it’s French title, ‘La Roue’. Directed by Abel Gance, this French silent drama is about a railroad engineer named Sisif who rescues a small girl from a train wreck and decides to raise it along with his son who doesn’t have a mother who died during his birth. Just the type of film you wanna watch on a day where it’s raining outside and you don’t feel like doing anything. A film with death and alcoholic hero. 4 and a half hours of this? I barely managed 23 minutes! I saw everything that was described to me by plot summaries on IMDb in that length of time. Now to talk about some of the key things about the film. First of all, let’s talk about the film quality. What was with the constant changing the colours from black and white to orange? Was the orange meant to symbolise something during the crash? And why are they filming through a pinhole lens? It’s hard enough trying to make out what’s on screen but when you use that lens which hides everything in the corners and only shows what’s in the middle of the lens makes things even more harder to see. Another talking point is Sisif himself. He’s our hero of the film? An alcoholic railroad engineer who didn’t even bother helping anyone during the crash. Instead he stood in his workspace staring at everyone dying while swatting away at the dust on his jacket. There’s people dying left, right and centre and you’re more concerned about your jacket getting dirty. Tosser! He only decides to take the little girl home after his work shift has ended. Pretty sure that if there’s been an incident like that in the workplace, the last thing anyone wants to do is return to their desks, for example, and pretend nothing ever happened. Also, they make him an alcoholic. Sorry, let me change that… THEY MAKE EVERYONE AN ALCOHOLIC!!!!! Yep, apparently it’s ok to drink heavily on the job even when the boss is watching you. One last thing. This one isn’t something to shout and complain about but more of a thing that doesn’t make any sense. We find out by a letter that the girl Sisif adopted was to be given away to an orphanage in France. But in the letter the girl’s mother wrote, she said that they were born in England. So why is travelling all the way to France to give her daughter away? Didn’t England have orphanages back in the early 1920’s? Overall, this film made me ask so many questions and not one of them was being answered. If you have seen this film then let me know what you thought of it in the comments. Here is what I had to say while watching 1923’s ‘The Wheel’
Film – The Wheel (La Roue)
Year – 1923
Director – Abel Gance
Written by – Abel Gance
Staring – Severin-Mars, Ivy Close, Gabriel de Gravone
IMDb Rating – 7.6/10
My Rating – TOO MANY QUESTIONS, NOT ONE ANSWER
Length – 261 min (4h 21min)
Genre – Drama
We open with a man staring into our souls while he thinks about trains
I can’t see a thing
Hello woman in snow
Is that snow? They look like feathers
Hello man staring at me…. STOP STARING AT ME!!!
PART 1 – The Rose of the Rail
We start with a quote from Victor Hugo about wheels crushing people
Those trains didn’t touch each other yet they still crashed
45 seconds before another train arrives and adds to the crash
And Sisif doesn’t even bother doing anything – What a dick! He’s our hero?
Too many jump cuts makes it hard to focus on anything
I have to watch 4 and a half hours of this? I’m struggling to do 7 minutes
Why are they filming everything with a pinhole lens?
And why does it keep jumping between black and white to orange film?
Wait what…. A woman rolls 3ft down a hill and dies? There was nothing there that could’ve killed her? Unless she had a heart attack then that would make sense but this film isn’t telling me anything… So…
Sisif awakens from shock from earlier and goes back to work… after remembering that a small girl has been left behind
Cut to Sisif’s son, Elie, as a graphic tells us his mom died giving birth to him
Shout out to the kitten and dog sleeping next to each other
In the morning – Wait… That happened all in one day? BOLLOCKS!!!
At an office, men smoke pipes while chatting as Sisif arrives
Meanwhile, the kids share a bowl of milk
So…. the girl was about to be given up for adoption… But if she and the mother are from England then why would she give her away to an orphanage in France?
15 years pass? WHAT!?!?!
15 years and Sisif hasn’t aged at all
Why do we need to know what everyone is drinking?
And why is he writing under a newspaper?
Cut to two men playing cards in a pub as the barman watches on pretending to clean glasses
Cut to a fat man dancing and getting drunk – Why? Why not! This film doesn’t seem to care anymore
19 minutes in and I really don’t care anymore
Cut to Sisif sleeping in a bed in the pub… Why??? Just because
Fat Dancing Man stops dancing as other men think Sisif is useless
I know it’s meant to be coal from the trains but it really does look like they’ve made Sisif do blackface (minus the lips and outfit)
Thanks film for telling me that Sisif is a alcoholic
Stop whipping your snot on the window
FUCK IT! IF THIS FILM DOESN’T CARE ANYMORE THEN WHY SHOULD I?