Toccata for Toy Trains



This film delves into the world of toy trains, which Charles loved long after boyhood. The work features toy trains of various vintages, styles, sizes, and materials to tell the simple story of a journey; it starts in a rail yard, continues to the countryside, moves through villages, and culminates at a station.

Charles wrote and narrated the opening to the film. He explains that, “In a good old toy there is apt to be nothing self-conscious about the use of materials. What is wood is wood; what is tin is tin; and what is cast is beautifully cast . . . It is possible that somewhere in all this is a clue to what sets the creative climate of any time, including our own.”

The concepts in the narration are more complex than they might seem at first glance. Charles is referencing the importance of “the honest use of materials,” an idea that he and Ray considered in ever one of their works.

Music score by Elmer Bernstein.

Winner of Edinburgh International Film Festival Award, 1957. Seventh Melbourne Film Festival Award, 1958. American Film Festival Award, 1959. Scholastic Teachers’ 11th Annual Film Award, 1960.

14 Minutes.  Color.