The train setting has also lent itself to a wide variety of stories ranging from intense sci-fi action movies to intimate dramas to compelling murder mysteries. Clearly, there is something very cinematic about the locomotive and IMDb has a collection of the most popular movies set on a train.
Before making Oscar history with Parasite, South Koran filmmaker Bong Joon-ho branched out to American audiences with the wild and thought-provoking sci-fi movie Snowpiercer. The movie is set aboard a train holding the remains of humanity after the Earth was thrown into an ice age. As the train endlessly circles the world, the exploited lower-class passengers begin a revolt.
Joon-ho's ambitious style and energy are on full display in this intense and entertaining ride that is also a compelling movie about the class struggle. And as the characters make their way up the train into the richer sections, there is a surrealness to the journey.
Trains have become part of American nostalgia and there is something romanticized about the stories of people hopping trains and traversing the country. Emperor of the North takes that idea and tells an intense tale of two enemies.
Set during the Great Depression, the movie centers around a ruthless train conductor who takes pleasure in ensuring no one rides his trains for free. But a nomadic man (Lee Marvin) decides to challenge the conductor and become a legend of the rails.
The speed and intensity at which a train travels provide a perfect fast-paced setting for an action thriller. Runaway Train stars Jon Voight and Eric Roberts as two convicts who escape from prison and attempt to get away on a train, only to find that it has no conductor and no brakes.
The movie is an intense and brutal thriller that will put audiences on the edge of their seats from beginning to end. It also features some terrific performances that elevate the material with Voight and Roberts both earning Oscar nominations for their roles.
Wes Anderson is known for exploring various different locations in his movies. The comedy-drama The Darjeeling Limited takes the filmmaker to India in the story of three adult brothers who reunite on a train trip following the death of their father.
While it might not be as beloved as some of Anderson's other work, The Darjeeling Limited provides the same winning aspects fans of the filmmaker have come to expect. From the dry humor to the charming visual style to his familiar cast that includes Adrien Brody, Owen Wilson, and Jason Schwartzman, it is an endearing tale of brotherhood.
While the recent remake of the classic Agatha Christie novel boasted a modern star-studded cast, the 1974 version of Murder on the Orient Express seems to have more fans. The movie finds famed detective Hercule Poirot investigating a murder aboard a train in which all the passengers are suspects.
Much like the latest version, the murder mystery assembles a fantastic cast of some big names of the era including Lauren Bacall, Sean Connery, and Albert Finney as Poirot. It makes for a terrific confined whodunnit any fans of the genre would get a lot of enjoyment from.
It seems that part of the allure of using a train setting for a thriller is that there seems to be no escape and a lot can happen on these long journeys. The Narrow Margin is a crime thriller centering around a woman who is set to testify against the mob who must be protected against assassins on her train ride to the trial.
It is a perfectly simple premise that allows for endless thrills and danger throughout this ride. Even 70 years since its release, The Narrow Margin seems to still entertain audiences.
Combining the train setting with a war movie is another terrific and thrilling approach to the story as seen in The Train. Set in World War II, the movie follows a mission to stop a German train filled with stolen French art while also ensuring the cargo is not damaged.
The movie is the type of team-on-a-mission adventure that is all over the war movie genre. It makes for an action-packed ride from beginning to end with legendary filmmaker John Frankenheimer at the helm.
Alfred Hitchcock is known as the master of suspense so it is not really surprising that he used the train setting for some of his thrillers. Though not often mentioned alongside some of his most iconic movies, The Lady Vanishes is one early movie for Hitchcock fans to check out.
The movie centers around a young woman traveling on a European train trip when she realizes that one of the wealthy passengers has seemed to disappear and no one else on the train seems to notice. It is a twisty and gripping black-and-white thriller with some signature Hitchcock twists.
Hitchcock returns to the train setting for one of his more well-known thrillers. Strangers on a Train takes the idea of the brief encounters people make on these journeys and introduces a sinister element to it.
It follows two people who meet randomly on a train voyage when one of them begins to manipulate the other into a twisted and murderous plot. It is another superb example of how effectively Hitchcock can build such an edge-of-the-seat story that begins with a simple conversation on a train.
Since the beginning of movies, trains have plaid a big role and The General shows how the setting can create something amazing even in the silent era of movies. Buster Keaton stars in the movie as a train conductor who attempts to recapture his train stolen by spies during the American Civil War.
The General is nearly 100 years old at this point and it is still regarded as one of the greatest action movies ever made. The sequences that are achieved are miraculous and it is the kind of movie that can entertain audiences of all ages.