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The Steel Animal (1935)

Das Stahltier (original title)
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 »


Willy Zielke


Willy Zielke (idea), Willy Zielke (screenplay)

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Complete credited cast:
Aribert Mog ... Narrator / Engineer Klaassen


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 Artemis-9

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Release Date:

10 July 2002 (France) See more »

Also Known As:

The Steel Animal See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


(cut) | (DVD)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


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 Joseph 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 »

Alternate Versions

The film's official distribution in 1954 was in a 44 minute version, that eventually went to VHS. The director's cut, preserved by the French Cinematheque, runs over 75 minutes. See more »

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User Reviews

Nazi Era Train Doc.
26 November 2011 | by MozjoukineSee all my reviews

This Nazi (bare chested guys going "Heil Hitler") quasi documentary, by Leni Reifenstahl's cameraman, most resembles AMAZING YOUNG MEN IN THEIR FLYING MACHINES, with it's elaborate reconstructions of early machinery. Despite the fact that the British and French attempts are presented as incompetent until the German Railways showed people how, this apparently ran foul of the 3rd Reich and was suppressed.

As a novelty and as entertainment the piece is not at all bad, with expert film craft and imagery, backed by a score by the composer from the Marika Rokk movies and performance and narration by the forgotten Aribert Moog from EXTASE.

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