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Emil and the Detectives in July

The latest in the BFI’s DVD releases of film adaptations of children’s books, released on 15 July 2013, is Emil and the Detectives, the classic story by Erich Kästner.

Featuring a screenplay written with Billy Wilder and Emeric Pressburger, this original German version from 1931 is directed by Gerhard Lamprecht. It is accompanied by the rarely-shown 1935 British remake by Milton Rosmer which was set on the streets of London.

When young Emil is sent to Berlin by his mother, the money he is carrying to give to his granny is stolen by a sinister man on the train. Once in Berlin, Emil follows the thief and enlists the help of a gang of youngsters – ‘the detectives’ – to help retrieve the stolen money.

This 1931 German adaptation of Erich Kästner's much-loved book was written by Kästner himself in collaboration with the legendary Billy Wilder (Sunset Boulevard, The Apartment) and an uncredited Emeric Pressburger (A Matter of Life and Death, The Red Shoes).

One of the first German sound films, Emil and the Detectives provides a fascinating glimpse of Berlin before Nazism and the Second World War.

Special features

Emil and the Detectives (Milton Rosmer, 1935, 60 mins): once considered to be a lost film, this rare British adaptation has been newly transferred from the only surviving film elements
• Illustrated booklet with original promotional material, contemporary reviews, and new essays by Children's Laureate Michael Rosen, Bryony Dixon and Caren Willig


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