West of the Tracks, Part III: Rails
(Tie Xi Qu)

Directed by Wang Bing.
China, 2003, digital video, color, 132 min.
Mandarin with English subtitles.

The closing chapter of Wang’s ambitious trilogy is arguably its most poetic and emotionally powerful, a portrait of the last supply trains that continue to deliver ever dwindling quantities of raw stuff to the crumbling factories. Passing through the ruins of abandoned homes and foundries, the conductors reflect with stoic restraint upon the gradual erasure of the world around them. A father-son team of metal scavengers becomes a vivid yet ultimately bleak vision of fragile hope, their daily struggle revealing how very little of value can be extracted from the wasteland left in the name of progress.

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