During the German occupation of France, railway workers help the Resistance effort by doing everything in their power to outwit the Nazis. They smuggle Jews in the water tanks of their steam engines, cut power lines, and blow up trains carrying military reinforcements to the front lines. The penalty for sabotage is death by firing squad, et still these men persist.
Clément used documentary footage from a 1943 short about rail workers and expanded it into this thrilling docudrama, merging actors and scripted dialogue with actual Resistance fighters and railway employees. The result is astonishing cinema vérité and a vital piece of living history, as we experience a “fly on the wall” perspective of life under Nazi rule. This was the first major film about the French Resistance, paying tribute to these brave souls who were off the battlefield, but still willing to fight for their freedom and their country.