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Cinema loves trains. Just like watching a movie in a dark room in front of a big screen, traveling by train expands our perception. The sense of distance and speed melts away, country and city, reality, longing and fantasy merge. When the passenger, sitting in the train, looks out and the passing landscape becomes a spectacle, isn't that almost like being in the movies? 

Since the arrival of a train in the Lumière brothers' film from 1895, trains have populated both international and German film history. There is a long list of outstanding works in which the train plays the leading role as a means of transportation and utopia, as a place of intense encounters or as a sheer emotional and storytelling machine. This is particularly true of the steam locomotive, which itself resembles a magical creature: racing, devouring kilometers, as long as a lindworm, spewing smoke like a dragon.

Our film program "All Aboard!" invites you on a train journey through German film history, from the 1920s to the early post-reunification period, from the sensational film Abenteuer im Nachtexpreß (1925) with Harry Piel to a montage firework in Das Stahltier (1935) and the drama Verspätung in Marienborn (1963) to the auteur film Rheingold (1978) and the sombre film Noir Europa (1991). The rich spectrum of films set on the train can be discovered. These include numerous documentaries and experimental films, propaganda and image films, in which the railroad in the "Third Reich", in the GDR and the Federal Republic of Germany presents its social significance, sometimes strikingly, sometimes reflectively. "Smart people travel by train", says a Bundesbahn conductor in Rheingold, ironically quoting the slogan of the Swiss Federal Railways, famous for its punctuality and reliability. We say: Smart people travel in the cinema! Because the cinema is, in the words of the German Federal Railways from 1954, "Punctual, safe and comfortable!"

The retrospective "All Aboard!" was curated by Philipp Stiasny.