After the children's book "Emil und die Detektive" was published in 1928 this first screen version was made in 1931 under the supervision of the author Erich Kästner himself.
The story seems simple: young Emil gets to visit his granny in Berlin and is given 140 marks by his mother for his grandma. On the train to Berlin the 140 marks are stolen by a man with a stiff hat while Emil sleeps. Arriving in Berlin he tries to follow the thief and receives help from a well organized and nice "gang" of Berlin street "detectives" in his age. A happy end seems possible.
While the movie contains a very entertaining story itself, an even more interesting detail of this movie is in its backdrop: an authentic Berlin of 1931 with open cabs, cars driving next to coaches, wide streets with lots of space for cyclists and so on. I always wondered when viewing older city maps what street life was like in the twenties of the last century when the streets were not as crowded as today, when the speed difference between pedestrians, cyclists, cars and coaches was still comparable in human measures.
The camera work, special effects (Emils dream on the train) and movie music are distinctly thirty-ish which made this movie even more interesting to me. All in all a very enjoyable movie for kids and adults alike.
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