Train Surfing Wars: A Matter of Life and Death

Train Surfing Wars: A Matter of Life and Death

2018, Society  -   3 Comments
Ratings: 5.32/10 from 25 users.

When the daredevil tendencies of energetic adolescents meet an unquenchable thirst for social media notoriety, the two can make a combustible combination. In some cases, it can even prove lethal. Such an incident occurred to a member of Brewman, a group of teenagers who film themselves in perilous situations to the delight of online followers. Produced by the BBC, the documentary short Train Surfing Wars: A Matter of Life and Death chronicles the group's exploits, their motivations for risking life and limb, and the disturbing trend they represent in our modern interconnected world.

The boys are shown jumping from one rooftop to another, performing double flips on the edge of a cliff, and balancing their light bodies from the highest elevations in Europe. They are bonded by their love of adrenaline, and their aspirations to build a vital social media brand.

But tragedy has put a wrench in these plans, and driven a wedge between their friendships. One of the teens dies from massive head injuries during a foolish stunt between carriages in the Metro rail station.

The boys fight back against the claim that they engage in senseless daredevil antics; they say their physical feats are the end result of extreme training and preparation. In their minds, it's akin to a sport. Critics, and the family of the deceased, contend that it's all a grandiose example of self-harm.

Worst of all, this penchant for self-harm is spreading. In the aftermath of the teen's death, copycat train surfing incidents began to emerge in the UK. Authorities are on alert, and increased media scrutiny has added a layer of stress to the already fragile spirit of the group.

While adults try to make sense of tragedy and find a way to curb this troubling trend, the boys and their followers continue to look for their next risky stunt. The teens don't seem adequately equipped to process their sense of loss or their duty to accept personal responsibility.

Train Surfing Wars: A Matter of Life and Death shows us how the old adage of "boys will be boys" carries a much more sinister connotation these days.

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4 years ago

...this is a documentary that nobody needs to see...what it suggests is that something is very wrong with "Britain" (but that could be said for the entirety of the so called "western world"...) – The one thing that amazed me was – how could these guys access the places they went to...??? It certainly wouldn't be possible here in LA...but there, in "england", they just seemed to climb around and play games anywhere they desired...amazing...something is definitely wrong with Britain...
I forced down the score a bit by giving it 4 stars....

4 years ago


I can understand the thrill of danger and in a way no different than teenage drink and drugs. And on the positive side, train surfing exercises more self control and discipline. On the down side someone can get electrocuted and a sodding train delay, for everyone else. My problem is the documentary. What is it? An youtubish type romanticised factual docu? The endorsement for this sport from the dead kids mother is also puzzling. Feels a bit like 'lets all smoke a crack pipe in memory of my son'. They are jumping from trains, walls with 30 m drop and so on.

J Miller
4 years ago

Yeah so what. Their life is their own. They get to decide how to use it. This is really a silly subject.