Sunday, February 3, 2008

High-speed tra-la-la

Click the following banner to visit an exotic French-language website that appears to have something to do with high-speed trains, because it carries the French railways SNCF logo. But I warn readers that they might not understand anything whatsoever in this website, above all in the animated films that you're invited to watch. I say this, not because the website is allegedly in French, but because of what you might call its "style". Above all, don't search around in this website if your aim is to book a seat on a French train. By the time you start to fathom out what this website is all about, your train will have blown its whistle and left the station. On the other hand, enlightened adolescent viewers of all backgrounds [not necessarily French] will probably find this stuff perfectly comprehensible, indeed ingenious and awesome.

Need I say more? Or more exactly: Am I capable (even though I understand the French language) of explaining things to any greater extent? Well, I can at least provide you with a few superficial clues, but I wouldn't claim that they'll help you in understanding the profound sense of this website.

— First, the website has been created by folk who call themselves iDTGV. Here, the final three letters stand, of course, for train à grande vitesse: high-speed train. This acronym is so familiar now that it even exists in the standard English dictionary of my Macintosh. The first two letters, iD, would appear to be an Apple-inspired way of evoking the French word idée: idea. So, iDTGV is no doubt a group of creators with ideas for marketing train travel to adolescent clients. And the website and its animated videos starring Zen and Zap are probably their first major production.

— The hero Zen is a young male, and the heroine Zap a young female. They happen to be traveling in the same high-speed train, but it goes without saying that they would have never met up personally were it not for the creative efforts of the nice and thoughtful iDTGV folk.

Well, that's as much help as I'm going to give you [as I'm able to give you]. You should be able to take it away from there. I vaguely suspect that, through iDTGV, adolescents on train trips will be able to make their presence known, get in contact with other adolescents on the same train, and participate in all kinds of high-speed tra-la-la during their brief time in the TGV. Awesome, no? Let me know if you've understood the situation differently or better than I did.


  1. On the homepage of the site, they say: "Attention, destiné à un public averti." It seems that I'm not a "public averti" and therefore not able to provide further explanations either...

  2. I used to imagine trains as interesting environments for random encounters. That was back in the days of compartments, corridors and cigarettes. These days, of course, there is no such atmosphere in a TGV. The presence of portable phones and computers is an additional alienating factor. A voyager uses these devices to create a cocoon in which he/she travels, as if attired in a spacesuit. Maybe the iDTGV folk think it's possible to transform a high-speed train, at least for adolescent clients, into an espace convivial. I wish them luck.

  3. On studying this one, I had hoped perhaps for the "Zentagues and the Zapulets"

    As it was the frightful racket I endured simply reminded me of one of the very negative aspects of my regular TGV trips to Paris!

    Naturally I couldn't understand a word!