Synopsis by Mark Deming
A very human story of love and betrayal lurks in the background of one of the great air disasters of the 1930's in this drama from German writer/director Gordian Maugg. Matthias Silcher (Herbert Schafer) is a man who has been fascinated by his father Jakob (Peter Wolf) for much of his adult life, while Jakob is similarly obsessed with the life of his own father, Robert (Olaf Rauschenbach). When Jakob unexpectedly dies, Matthias takes up his research into Robert's life and death; while in his youth Robert worked as a tailor, when airships enjoyed their great moment of popularity in the 1930's, he took a job with a firm that serviced zeppelins with hydrogen, including the Hindenburg. Robert died in the midst of a work-related accident, and shortly before his death Jakob had tracked down Karl (Alexander May), a close friend and colleague of Robert who was with him at the time of his death. Matthias begins interviewing Karl on a regular basis, but while the old man initially has little patience for Matthias's questioning, in time he begins sharing some of the long-forgotten details of his life with Robert. In the 1930's, Robert had married the great love of his life, Thea (Agnieszka Piwowarska), and through her brother Konrad (Christoph Bach) he landed a job in airship maintenance that led to a prestigious appointment to help keep the Hindenburg in repair. Robert developed a tremendous passion for airships, and struck up a friendship with one of his co-workers, Karl (played as a young man by Hendrik Massute). However, as he devotes more and more time to his work, Robert begins neglecting his wife, while Karl becomes increasingly attracted to the lovely and lonely Thea.