Original title: Les Pirogues des Hautes Terres
Running time: 95 minutes
In 1938 Senegal was a French colony (as part of French West Africa) and local railway was an important part in transport of local products that were later shipped to France - rice, coffee, wood. Local black railroad workers begun strike demanding higher wages and the equal rights to French (mostly white) workers. But the railways officials did not want to talk about this matter - in their eyes local workers are payed decent money for simple work of loading and unloading the trains. They used army to suppress the strike - there are people killed and wounded among the strikers. Nine years later local workers in Thies again demand their rights - their low wages are not enough to support their families, even though they fought for France in World War 2 they were not offered pensions or any compensation. When young military doctor Pierre Marie arrives to Thies the tension between railways and the workers leads to a total standstill - workers refuse to work and thus no trains travel down the Dakar-Niger Railway. The businessmen are furious on railway officials for not solving the crisis - they are unable to deliver their cargoes and their costs are rising. But the impact of the strike is spreading - since no trains are leaving the stations locals are not employed by the businessmen, the dockers in the ports are unemployed, the French government is unhappy with the impact on economy. Marcel starts his campaign of brutal oppression towards the workers hoping to break their spirit.
TV drama that depicts the 1947 railway strike in Senegal, the French colony that was still treated by French government as source of cheap labour and natural resources. Young girl Sokhna is the witness of both strikes (1938 and 1947) and tells the story how those events changed the life of all the people involved. Train driver Nar Sene, who鈥檚 passion for trains makes him reluctant to idea of strike, ruthless railway official Marcel who took part in 1936 massacre, workers union activist Abdou, young doctor Pierre Marie and many others. The English title Sand鈥檚 Train could be misleading - original title is the Pirogues of Highland, which is the term one of the characters, Nar Sene, uses to decribe his steam engine.
As for trains there is limited number of scenes at the beginning of the film, but it presents the steam engines and small bits of interior of old cars. Also there are scenes that take place on train stations and inside railway workshops. All the scenes were filmed in Senegal, although not in the historical locations. Nevertheless it is rather good movie and shows exotic scenery and train you will not see today. In some ways the overtones of Sand鈥檚 Train are similar to those of Days of Glory - the film presents the way France treated its colonies and the people who lived there.
as Yvonne Hauterive
as Nar Sene
as Pierre Marie
as Albert Hauterive
as Rene Barthes