Logging Off · 55 mins · DVD


This exceptional film was shot over the winter of 2002/3 by Du Jianbin and Chen Yuehong, two Chinese film makers who were recording aspects of Chinese life as it changed rapidly as China modernised.

Their subject here was the very last operating season of the 76cm gauge Weihe Forest Railway in Manchuria which, by then, was the last all steam-operated line of this type. You see the farmers as they head into the woods at the beginning of the winter, and follow them as they cut the timber, often by hand, and using oxen to move the logs to the loading points.

And you see the railway being prepared for one last time, the steam locomotives being repaired to see them through the very hard work they must perform during the bitter winter. And you see and meet the loco crews and others who cheerfully work on, knowing that, when Spring comes, their jobs will be lost, and the railway itself scrapped.

It may be bittersweet, but this is one of the best railway films we have come across; see for yourself. English subtitles where needed.