Emil goes to Berlin to see his grandmother with a large amount of money and is offered sweets by a strange man that make him sleep. He wakes up at his stop with no money. It is up to him and a group of children to save the day.
Erich Kästner's beloved novel has been adapted for film or television six times since its publication in 1929; this 1935 British version was the first in English. Believed lost for decades, it was recently rediscovered by the BFI and has now been restored. The film moves the action from Berlin to London, where Emil goes to stay with his grandmother and cousin. Thereafter, the tale of Emil's adventures with a gang of streetwise London children faithfully follows the original plot.
The running time on the 2013 BFI DVD issue (alongside the 1931 German original) which is apparently restored from the sole surviving copy is only 59 minutes. Taking into account PAL speed up (standard UK region 2 DVDs play at 25 frames/50 fields per second rather than the 24 frames/60 fields format of most territories) this means the surviving print would have played for around 61 minutes when shown in a standard cinema projector. However it is unclear from the DVD booklet account whether this means approximately 10 minutes of footage has been lost or whether the original length of the UK version was only 61 minutes and therefore a fair bit shorter than the 1931 German original, which as per the 1936 Kinematograph Year Book was 6390 feet (71 minutes) See more »
(at around 27 mins) "The Man In The Bowler Hat"/Sam Pinker gets in a taxi, and when it drops him off at his hotel, the registration is ALN 287. A couple of minutes later, ALN 287 reappears behind Polly and "The Flying Stag" as they cycle and scoot respectively along the Embankment. See more »
A classic story which needs little description of context and plot - the other reviewer has covered this. Good fun today although early dream sequence is surprisingly scary for its intended audience of the time and the footage of Emil flying round iconic London locations was a clear inspiration for some Mary Poppins sequences.
Also very interesting to watch it back-to-back with the 1931 German original (as packaged together on the 2013 BFI DVD release). The UK version is much more than a relocated remake - it attempts to be a near exact replica of so many elements. The music is reused, the dialogue is exactly the same underneath the translation, all the studio sets are designed to look identical and are filmed from the same positions, the characters all perform the same actions in the same sequence and wear almost identical clothes. The relocation from Berlin to London for the main story clearly prevents much scenic replication (although street furniture such as news-stand, outdoor café etc are used in identical fashion), and the early sequences in Emil's village contain the same motifs (eg windmill, formal garden round statue in park) to reinforce the replication. But if you watch the UK version in its own right, none of this recreation looks forced or artificial - which is probably a tribute to how well the German original was produced.
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