'Love and the First Railway' is what this movie's title would mean in English. This is one of those films that depicts fictional characters participating in an historic incident. The actual first railway was built in England, of course. But according to this movie, the first railway (in Germany, at least) was built from Berlin to Potsdam, in 1838. I haven't the faintest idea if that's correct, but the people who made this movie do seem to take a great deal of interest in historical accuracy, so I'll take their word for it. Anyway, a title at the beginning establishes that this movie is set in 1838.
Jakob Tiedtke is a provincial postmaster who earns his main livelihood as the owner/operator of a local stagecoach. His daughter (Karin Hardt, quite pretty) meets a handsome young surveyor (Hans Schlenck, not a very good actor) who is the construction foreman for the new eisenbahn ('iron-road') being built between Berlin and Potsdam. Karin's father is positive that the new-fangled steam engines will never replace time-tested reliable horse-drawn transit. Karin and her mother (Ida Wüst) are enthusiastic about the railway, because it will bring new business and development to their village. But if the railway succeeds, then Karin's father's stagecoach business will become obsolete...
Although 'Love and the First Railway' is basically a period romance, there is some slapstick humour (mostly from Fritz Kampers) which is more effective than I expected it to be. Most impressive of all is the vintage railway engine that appears in this film. I know a fair amount about early 19th-century British railway engines, but very little about their German counterparts. The fully functional choo-choo in this movie is either an actual railway engine circa 1838 (still in good nick, 100 years on!), or else a painstakingly accurate modern re-creation. Either way, I'm extremely impressed.
If that train engine had remained offscreen, I might have rated this movie 5 points out of 10. The presence of the engine hikes this movie's rating up to a near-perfect 9, and it also makes this movie required viewing for anybody interested in 19th-century railways. All aboard!
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