In order to force Lukas Berlinger, a talented scientist and heir to the "Berlinger" chemical plant, to work for the Nazis during WWII the Gestapo arrests his wife and she commits suicide. Berlinger escapes from Germany by plane and emigrates to South-America resp. Sweden where he becomes a rich man. In the 70s he returns to Germany just when a former friend of his is buying up real estate for a huge leisure park project. Since Berlinger doesn't want to sell the premises of his old factory, a conflict ensues between the powers of the capital on the one hand and a single man (who gets a little help from some workers and a teacher he falls in love with) on the other hand.
This films appears to be from a completely different time now although it is only 25 years old - which is not to say that it isn't fresh and very entertaining. First, it's a POLITICAL film which explains the inner workings of capitalism and the difference a single nonconformistic person can still make in a highly bourgeois society in an exemplary way. Berlinger is a true individualist (almost anarchist) and a very virile and likeable hero (which is quite rare in German cinema). Secondly, when you watch the film now it's almost like a time travel back to the last days of the machine-age. And these machines (an old engine and a zeppelin that Berlinger is working on) are so much more fascinating, sensual and beautiful than the boring computers of the information-age we are living in now. Flying was an ancient dream of mankind, surfing in the Internet was not!
When asked for the best directors of the New German Film in the 70s I'll add Sinkel/Brustellin from now on to the likes of Herzog, Fassbinder, Wenders, Schlöndorff and Klick.
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