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Western Animation / Home On The Rails

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The realtor will have a hard time with this one.
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Home on the Rails is an odd little 1981 animated short film from The Netherlands, directed by Paul Driessen, in collaboration with a painter billed as "The Amazing Mr. Wonderful".

It isn't a cartoon about Hobos. No, it's about a married couple who literally have a house on the railroad tracks. Every day, when the clock strikes 12 and they hear the whistle, they have to open two doors to let the train pass. The husband supports the two of them by working as a gold prospector. When he can no longer pan for gold at his favorite site, due to an encroaching railroad, he faces a moment of crisis.


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Tropes:

  • Driven to Suicide: The husband kills himself by lying down on the tracks. All the wife finds is a shattered teacup.
  • Eye Pop: A rabbit always runs into the house for shelter right before the train comes through. His eyes bug out when he comes in one time and finds the man lying on the tracks, about to kill himself.
  • Idiot Ball: A house on the railroad tracks.
  • Mime and Music-Only Cartoon: No dialogue.
  • Prospector: The husband pans for gold. He goes into despair when he can't find any more.
  • Riding into the Sunset: Or fly into the sunset, as the woman doesn't open the doors, which leads to the train hitting the house, which leads to the house flying off into the sky, the woman alive inside.
  • Running Gag: All the bizarre actions of the cuckoo clock, which are never the same.
  • Surreal Humor: The weird cuckoo clock and all the odd things it does. One time the "cuckoo" is a man on the guillotine, who gets his head lopped off. Another time it's a washerwoman, who throws her bucket of water on the floor of the house.
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  • Surrealism: There's the odd setting, and then there are some odd touches to the animation. When the man or woman move around, they disappear and then reappear-the woman will get up from her chair, disappear, and appear again at the doorknob before opening the door. And before the train comes barreling through their house for real, a ghostly image of it always shows up and then disappears.
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