In present day Germany, by 6:30 a.m., the railway workers are waiting the opening of the factory's door to start a new day of hard work. Inside, Engineer Klaassen is still awake, as all ... See full summary »
In present day Germany, by 6:30 a.m., the railway workers are waiting the opening of the factory's door to start a new day of hard work. Inside, Engineer Klaassen is still awake, as all night long he planned, measured diagrams, used his algorithm tables, made calculations and drew more geometric figures for a new steam locomotive. The labor force works fast, and step by step the steel animal gains form and glints, the intellectual project gains life. Klaassen receives a phone call, and he is happy with his transfer to head the railway line's controlling team. He accepts well his change of job, but when he meets his co-workers, uncultured and rough people, he starts having second thoughts. However, he takes it easy, recognizes that they're highly trained works, and teaches them a number of (flashback) stories of pioneers of the present steam train: the early invention by Denis Papin (1679); the three legendary land-surveyors of Caton Hill; the 1769 experiment by Nicolas-Joseph De ... Written by
The film's distribution was stopped by the Production company, July 1935, as the Reich's Railway Service was upset with the emphasis given to the history of railways (namely, French and British inventors), and aesthetic options - fast rhythm, superimposed images, and one spinning-wheel camera effect judged detrimental to railway customers; parallel of the Engineer's love for the machine and the sexual act, after a scene in which the pieces of equipment are detailed in terms of the human body. Despite Leni Riefenstahl, who liked the film very much, convinced Josef Goebbels to view the film in a private screening, in October 1935, the Reich's Minister for Propaganda did not change the ban, writing in his diary that it was a bad film, which had caused too much stir. See more »
This film exists in so many versions it's hard to figure out, but it is beautiful whichever form we see. The shots of wheels and wheels within wheels, gears and gears within gears are lovingly choreographed. Similar to Norman McLaren's "Pas de deux" decades later, these inner workings take a life of their own and we watch the movement not as the movement of mechanical things but as a sort of cosmic dance. No, it isn't propaganda in any way and no, it really doesn't contain a melodramatic plot with famous actors but it goes so much further. This film is well worth anybody's time!
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