Night Train departing from Switzerland
by Nina Scheu
16/03/2012 - Until now, the Swiss capital of Bern might be internationally less known than the banking-cities of Geneva and Zurich. But this might change when Night Train to Lisbon hits cinemas next year - the Swiss-German-Portuguese co-production will be partly shot in the old town of the picturesque city that's famous for its peaceful pace.
Bern is not only the starting point of the leading character's journey – to Portugal, to a history of suppression and revolution, and finally to his inner self. It is also the birthplace of Peter Bieri, professor in philosophy and better known for is pseudonym as an author, Pascal Mercier. He wrote the bestselling novel Night Train To Lisbon that has been translated into more than 15 languages and sold in more than 30 countries all over the world.
Swiss producer Peter Reichenbach from c-films realised immediately the book's great potential for the big screen. Together with his co-producers in Germany he found Danish director Bille August (known for Pelle Eroberen, Smilla's Feeling for Snow or Goodbye Bafana) who started shooting this week in Switzerland.
He's directing Oscar-winning Jeremy Irons in the leading role, German actress Martina Gedeck as his female counterpart Mariana and famous Swiss actor Bruno Ganz (Hitler in Oliver Hirschbiegel's Oscar-nominated Downfall [trailer, film focus]) as a witness to torture and persecution in Portugal during the years of dictatorship.
The story begins on Bern's Kirchenfeld bridge, where Raimund Gregorius (Irons), a bored and boring Latin-teacher, meets someone who's going to change his entire life. In an instant, he leaves his lessons, the school, Bern and Switzerland, to find himself in a train to Lisbon, Portugal. There he traces the story of Amadeu Prado, a charismatic doctor, philosopher and revolutionary, who had been murdered during the Salazar-regime, that lasted in Portugal until the 'Carnation Revolution' in 1974. Putting together the fascinating puzzle of Amadeu's life, Gregorius finds a new one for himself.