Staplerfahrer Klaus – A Film Review

Germans are stereotypically known for their coldness and lack of emotion – specifically a complete inability to feel humor or partake in any sort of amusement.  The Germans do this entirely intentionally and for good reason. How else should they be capable of such economic success? Or such technical and industrial prowess? They combine their clinical practicality with efficient training. The German film industry has been harnessed to become an effective tool for training the German worker to be safely productive.

One such film has gained widespread notoriety for its realistic portrayal of a specific profession – forklift driving. Staplerfahrer Klaus – Der erste Arbeitstag is such an effective training film that it has won numerous awards including: Best Short at the German Film Critics Association Awards, First Prize at the Day of the German Short Film, Best Short Film at Fantasia Film Festival, as well as Audience Award for Best Short Film and Special Prize of the European Broadcasters Jury at the Brussels International Festival of Fantasy Film (although safety should be no fantasy), and more.

In the interest of promoting public safety, it has been made freely available on the internet (with English subtitles!):

Klaus is a Gabelstaplerfahrer [fork+stacker+driver] who is new to his profession. Astute English-speaking readers will note that the English noun “stapler” describes a tool used for stacking together papers in the same way that the German verb “stapeln” and its associated noun “der Stapler” describe a the action of stacking items in general, as well as the tool  or entity used for such a purpose. “Gabel” and “fork” do not share any etymological ties due to their differing ancestry in High German and Latin respectively. “Gabelstaplerfahrer” is shortened within the title of the film to “Staplerfahrer” [only stacker+driver] for the purposes of brevity.

While on the job, he encounters a number of situations which are used to demonstrate the safe operation of forklifts to viewers. These situations include the correct use of lanes to avoid accidents, securing loads correctly to prevent damages due to falling objects, and the operation of forklift equipment around pedestrians in an industrial setting.

The film manages to convey all the necessary safety information required for prudent forklift operation in its short, eight minute length. The actors’ performances are compelling, and they ensure that the film’s training content is conveyed in a professional and businesslike manner. One reviewer calls it “klasse”, German for “brilliant” and stemming from the Latin “classis.” (The English word “brilliant” comes from the Greek “βήρυλλος”, but this goes back much farther via Sanskrit “वैडूर्य,” [pronounced “vaidurya“] to Dravidian, and comes ultimately from the name of the city Velur – which is now modern day Belur.) There is a Facebook page for the film, as well as a fanclub, and even a page for our friend Klaus, if you find yourself interested!

More information can also be found at the film’s IMDB page.