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Film / Terminus

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A 1961 Slice of Life BAFTA-winning short (32-minute) film by John Schlesinger, Terminus follows A Day in the Life of London's busy Waterloo Station, showing scenes of the staff and passengers arriving and departing, as well as what goes on behind the scenes for the station staff.

Terminus provides examples of:

  • Adult Fear: At one point, a 5-year-old boy is separated from his mother until a police officer finds him and takes him to the stationmanster's office, where an announcement is given over the station loudspeakers and the boy's mother is reunited with him. What really makes this scene a Tear Jerker is that they used Enforced Method Acting on the child; he wasn't told that this was a staged scene, and really did burst into tears thinking he had been abandoned.
  • Book-Ends: The film begins and ends with a shot of the surrounding London cityscape in the early morning.
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  • Contrast Montage: 2 commuters are shown arriving on the same train; one has a leisurely stroll to a florist's where he buys a flower for his lapel, and then walks out the front doors to a waiting car where he starts a crossword puzzle. The other commuter has a frenzied run to the Underground station, drops his umbrella and has to go back for it, and then misses his (overcrowded) tube train.
  • Eye Scream: One scene shows several steam locomotives shooting off clouds of smoke and steam, children looking at them and writing down their numbers, and then cuts to a child having a cinder washed out of his eye by a nurse.
  • Here We Go Again!: The film ends with the sun rising over the roofs of the surrounding London area, just like the opening shots, giving the sense that another day as eventful as the one just shown is about to begin.
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  • Match Cut: In addition to the Contrast Montage listed above, there are many scenes showing how varied the passengers using the trains are; In one scene, a Jewish family and a group of nuns take the same train, while another sequence shows a newlywed couple being showered with confetti by their cheering friends, and then cuts to a body in a coffin being solemnly placed on a different train. Yet another sequence shows a passenger, a station employee, and the station cat all having something to eat or drink.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: The music, cinematography, and editing make the film a compelling and fascinating look into what at first glance seems like it would be a boring premise.
  • Nice Hat: Seen being worn by many passengers and station staff. Not surprising, considering it's a film made in London in 1961.
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