La Traversee de la Pacific


1h 18m 1982

Film Details

Also Known As
Odyssey of the Pacific, Traversee de la Pacific
Release Date
1982

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 18m

Synopsis

Film Details

Also Known As
Odyssey of the Pacific, Traversee de la Pacific
Release Date
1982

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 18m

Articles

Treasure Train - Mickey Rooney in TREASURE TRAIN aka The Emperor of Peru


Originally released as The Emperor of Peru and then retitled Odyssey of the Pacific, the surrealist tale of childhood Treasure Train (1982) belongs in a category all of its own, somewhere between children's fable and magical realist head trip.

Made by a contemporary of the notorious Chilean director Alejandro Jodorowsky (The Holy Mountain, 1973, El Topp, 1970), Spanish director Fernando Arrabal (The Guernica Tree, 1975) was a co-founder of the avant-garde performance art group the Panic Movement with Jodorowsky, and a prolific playwright, poet, novelist and director who worked with renowned 20th century creatives from Pop artist Andy Warhol to Surrealist Andre Breton.

A French-Canadian co-production, Treasure Train is a sputtering adventure tale of two siblings Toby (Jonathan Starr) and Liz (Anick) and their pet duck Federico. The brother and sister are visiting the beautiful country estate of their Aunt Elsa (Monique Mercure) and Uncle Alex (Jean-Louis Roux). They are joined in their childhood adventures by a Cambodian refugee Hoang (Ky Huot Uk) who will stay with the family until adoptive parents can be found. Each day the three children bicycle into the forest where they explore and conjure up elaborate make-believe. Toby's fantasy life is especially intense. In surreal flights of fantasy the little boy imagines himself as a race care driver, an astronaut and a potent rescuer of damsels in distress. Playing the resident female killjoy Liz chafes in irritation at her daydreamy little brother. But she also can't help being drawn into the relentless questing and fantasy life of the other children.

While Toby daydreams about a man-sized virility, Hoang flashes back to moments with his beloved mother in war-torn Cambodia. He longs to return to Cambodia and see her. In an Oedipal expression of his yearning, Hoang hopes to marry his mother, and the other children support him in that mission. A strain of darkness occasionally pops through this otherwise whimsical tale, both in the specter of the Khmer Rouge genocide referenced in Hoang's story but also in the sudden, violet tantrums that overtake Uncle Alex when the children misbehave. In one strange moment Uncle Alex hurls shaving cream at Toby in a fit of anger when the boy comes home dirty and covered in coal dust. It's one of several strange, non-sequitur fits of adult rage that add to Treasure Train's odd tone.

But the children's biggest adventure comes when they discover a grizzled old train engineer (Mickey Rooney) who refers to himself as the Emperor of Peru, living out in the forest in a train caboose converted into a home. Confined to an ornate, steam punk- style wheelchair, the Emperor is a mixture of adult menace and child-like whimsy who often joins the children in their imaginative play-acting. When the children find an enormous locomotive nearby, together they and the Engineer work to restore it to its former glory. Liz hopes to use the train to spirit Hoang back to Cambodia where he will be reunited with his mother, though history tells us that the Khmer Rouge have most likely already killed the boy's parents. The children struggle to get the train operational even as a pair of policemen threaten to roust the Emperor from his woodsy lair and haul him away to the old folk's home.

There are touches of the Felliniesque as when a traveling trio of tight-walking pierrots turn up in the forest. What might have been imagined as winsome and magical in moments such as this, instead often feels creaky and top-heavy with adult themes, such as Hoang's separation from his mother, who he believes is still in Cambodia waiting for her husband to be freed from a concentration camp. In many ways Treasure Train recalls the similarly strange, inventive mixture of doom and comedy in that other surreal kiddie chestnut, Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971).

Ultimately fixing on the title Treasure Train was undoubtedly a way to lure child viewers. But the film exists in a strange limbo, not quite convincing as the kind of film small children would enjoy, but too plodding and, potentially, too surreal for many adults.

To order Treasure Train, go to TCM Shopping.

by Felicia Feaster
Treasure Train - Mickey Rooney In Treasure Train Aka The Emperor Of Peru

Treasure Train - Mickey Rooney in TREASURE TRAIN aka The Emperor of Peru

Originally released as The Emperor of Peru and then retitled Odyssey of the Pacific, the surrealist tale of childhood Treasure Train (1982) belongs in a category all of its own, somewhere between children's fable and magical realist head trip. Made by a contemporary of the notorious Chilean director Alejandro Jodorowsky (The Holy Mountain, 1973, El Topp, 1970), Spanish director Fernando Arrabal (The Guernica Tree, 1975) was a co-founder of the avant-garde performance art group the Panic Movement with Jodorowsky, and a prolific playwright, poet, novelist and director who worked with renowned 20th century creatives from Pop artist Andy Warhol to Surrealist Andre Breton. A French-Canadian co-production, Treasure Train is a sputtering adventure tale of two siblings Toby (Jonathan Starr) and Liz (Anick) and their pet duck Federico. The brother and sister are visiting the beautiful country estate of their Aunt Elsa (Monique Mercure) and Uncle Alex (Jean-Louis Roux). They are joined in their childhood adventures by a Cambodian refugee Hoang (Ky Huot Uk) who will stay with the family until adoptive parents can be found. Each day the three children bicycle into the forest where they explore and conjure up elaborate make-believe. Toby's fantasy life is especially intense. In surreal flights of fantasy the little boy imagines himself as a race care driver, an astronaut and a potent rescuer of damsels in distress. Playing the resident female killjoy Liz chafes in irritation at her daydreamy little brother. But she also can't help being drawn into the relentless questing and fantasy life of the other children. While Toby daydreams about a man-sized virility, Hoang flashes back to moments with his beloved mother in war-torn Cambodia. He longs to return to Cambodia and see her. In an Oedipal expression of his yearning, Hoang hopes to marry his mother, and the other children support him in that mission. A strain of darkness occasionally pops through this otherwise whimsical tale, both in the specter of the Khmer Rouge genocide referenced in Hoang's story but also in the sudden, violet tantrums that overtake Uncle Alex when the children misbehave. In one strange moment Uncle Alex hurls shaving cream at Toby in a fit of anger when the boy comes home dirty and covered in coal dust. It's one of several strange, non-sequitur fits of adult rage that add to Treasure Train's odd tone. But the children's biggest adventure comes when they discover a grizzled old train engineer (Mickey Rooney) who refers to himself as the Emperor of Peru, living out in the forest in a train caboose converted into a home. Confined to an ornate, steam punk- style wheelchair, the Emperor is a mixture of adult menace and child-like whimsy who often joins the children in their imaginative play-acting. When the children find an enormous locomotive nearby, together they and the Engineer work to restore it to its former glory. Liz hopes to use the train to spirit Hoang back to Cambodia where he will be reunited with his mother, though history tells us that the Khmer Rouge have most likely already killed the boy's parents. The children struggle to get the train operational even as a pair of policemen threaten to roust the Emperor from his woodsy lair and haul him away to the old folk's home. There are touches of the Felliniesque as when a traveling trio of tight-walking pierrots turn up in the forest. What might have been imagined as winsome and magical in moments such as this, instead often feels creaky and top-heavy with adult themes, such as Hoang's separation from his mother, who he believes is still in Cambodia waiting for her husband to be freed from a concentration camp. In many ways Treasure Train recalls the similarly strange, inventive mixture of doom and comedy in that other surreal kiddie chestnut, Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971). Ultimately fixing on the title Treasure Train was undoubtedly a way to lure child viewers. But the film exists in a strange limbo, not quite convincing as the kind of film small children would enjoy, but too plodding and, potentially, too surreal for many adults. To order Treasure Train, go to TCM Shopping. by Felicia Feaster

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Released in United States 1982

Released in United States 1982