Slow TV: Train Ride Bergen to Oslo

Take in the passing landscapes captured by train-mounted cameras during a rail journey through forests and mountains between Bergen and Oslo, Norway.

Year: 2009

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Sometimes you have to take one for the team. Sometimes a drunken promise comes back to haunt you. Sometimes you end up watching over 7 hours of footage from a train journey across Norway in order to keep that promise and do a review for New On Netflix. Sometimes you regret things. Sometimes. This was one of those times.

Slow TV, if you don’t know, is special. It’s a Norwegian TV channel that specialises in things that are slow – such as watching an evening of knitting unfold, watching a morning of firewood burning or, in this case, a 7 hour train journey from Bergen to Oslo.

Train Ride Bergen to Oslo” was recorded in one take, one 7 hour and 14 minute take with a camera at the front of the train. We start by seeing people at the train station in Bergen waving at the train – or maybe their friends/family – the script isn’t very clear. As the train sets off it enters a number of tunnels and we are met with an onscreen display saying the name of the tunnel, it’s length and the year it was made. Unfortunately the majority of the opening 15 minutes are in tunnels and the train doesn’t have any headlights. Yes, a lot of the footage is just black – but what do you expect in such a mountainous region of Norway?

If you stick with “Train Ride Bergen to Oslo” then you will start to see some epic scenery – but we’ll get to that after today’s safety and security announcements. Near the beginning we hear a number of announcements over the tannoy (with English subtitles) warning the passengers to “look after your wallet, phone and luggage as things have been stolen before”, that there is a “cafe car with food, snacks, water, wine and beer” (you’ll need the alcohol to get through this, trust me) and there is also a “kids car with DVD for children“. 

Other announcements are usually to tell passengers when the next station is. Weirdly, it’s the same voice as Northern Rail use to tell me “the next station is Skipton” albeit in Norwegian.

Once you get going on the journey, you see some amazing scenery – lakes, mountains, forests. It does look great but is let down by only having a single camera at the front of the train. The sound from the train track, however, may make you a bit sleepy – they’re quite rhythmic and, with not much else going on, quite dreamlike… Voss has some lovely, grand buildings and is surrounded by some great mountains but it does get a bit samey.

Further down the line (pun intended) there are some tunnels that have windows in the side – these at least allow you to see what’s happening outside. In general though, tunnels are dark and boring. If you were so inclined you could work out the train’s average speed through the tunnels by noting the tunnel length on the screen and timing how long it takes to get through them. It really is that exciting.

One of the more exciting moments was when some snow splashed onto the window and you could watch it gradually melt away. This leads into some nice footage with snow-covered tracks and surrounding forests.

The majority of the film, however, isn’t actually that exciting. The scenes in the stations can take minutes with nothing much happening; a lot of the tunnels are quite long and, without train lights, can be boring to watch. Especially the 10km tunnel near the end…

The most exciting part of the film comes in the last 15-20 minutes in the National Museum scene. Now, we don’t normally do spoilers but I’m pretty sure you’re never going to watch this so I’ll warn you now: SPOILERS AHEAD!

Once we get to the National Museum we park at the station with a message on the tannoy telling passengers to leave the doors closed and not to exit the train. This goes on for around 10 minutes and it transpires there was a problem with the signalling. The threat is real and the intensity of the announcements warning passengers NOT to open the doors feels very realistic. Then, after 7 hours, we find out the train does actually have lights so we could have seen inside all the other tunnels. Talk about annoying!

Overall I can’t really recommend “Slow TV: Train Ride Bergen to Oslo” – the script is poor, the build up is incredibly slow. The idea is great, but it just wasn’t well executed. It does make soothing background noise though.

Have you seen this film? Let us know your opinions in the comments below and of course if there are any films on Netflix UK you want us to review let us know!

About MaFt

Film and TV fan, creator of New On Netflix (UK, USA, Australia and Canada), dad of two amazing children, code geek and passionate about autism.

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