The Iron Ministry Reviews

August 23, 2018
Some of these trains are very old and rickety. Others are very new, fast, and flashy. All are linked into one movement through the film's 82 minutes.
February 15, 2018
It's curious about people in a way that's frankly old-fashioned.
May 19, 2016
For a fly-on-the-wall ethnographic film, Iron Ministry is surprisingly funny.
March 2, 2016
The Iron Ministry is a rather odd work for many reasons, even if its depiction of class and ethnicity on various trains across modern China captures an essential moment.
February 12, 2016
A subtly political film about the hopes and frustrations of ordinary Chinese citizens that is as dramatic in its own odd way as a kung-fu costume drama.
August 27, 2015
Amid the rumble, Sniadecki's camera spies such a variety of life that it soon seems as though these trains provide a stage for the full spectrum of human activity.
August 22, 2015
Seamlessly rides many rails through China to intimately experience sounds, sights, and even smells, alongside restless people on the move through space and economic change.
August 20, 2015
Filmmaker J.P. Sniadecki withholds judgment and resists editorializing, but the result is frustratingly nebulous and devoid of context.
August 20, 2015
"The Iron Ministry" is neither boring nor confining, which is just to say that it's not a long trip through a faraway country. It's a work of art - vivid and mysterious and full of life.
August 20, 2015
The overheard conversations touch on social issues (e.g., China's rapid industrialization and rampant unemployment) addressed more thoroughly in numerous recent Chinese films.
August 18, 2015
Coolly formal yet ceaselessly tactile... works from lovely visual abstraction to the most material of physical concerns... immaculate [sound design], a song for ears that crave the sound of rail travel and the insistent buzz of human commerce.
August 18, 2015
What emerges is a sense of an optimistic people well aware of how hard times can be but convinced they might be getting better.
August 17, 2015
The parallel tracks of railways and cinema profitably converge yet again in J.P.Sniadecki's outstanding, semi-experimental documentary The Iron Ministry, a pungently immersive evocation of traveling on Chinese trains.
August 17, 2015
Designed as a broadly impressionistic vision of the ways the country's vast railroad system is used, the pic is non-ideological and intermittently engrossing, catering to viewers especially drawn to this type of non-narrative docu filmmaking.
August 17, 2015
By the end, the real focus of The Iron Ministry isn't the train but the world zipping past it.
August 17, 2015
Though J.P. Sniadecki doesn't elucidate any broad structural motive, his film gradually adopts an engrossing rhythm among its clatter of steel and ambient chatter.