Watching Gotthard, the multiple award-winning miniseries about the construction of the Gotthard Tunnel, was a real pleasure. Check it out.
The two-part Gotthard follows three characters whose lives are inextricably linked to the construction of the Gotthard Tunnel, the 15-kilometer railway tunnel that connects Göschenen with Airolo in Switzerland, during the decade between 1873 and 1882.
One is Max Büuhl (Maxim Mehmet, Tatort, Generation War), a well-off, wannabe engineer who travels from his home in Villingen, Germany, to Göschenen, Switzerland, in the hopes of getting a job, any job, with the tunnel’s contractor — so passionate is he about being a part of “the project of the century.” Thanks to his skills in arithmetic, he does.
Another is Tommaso Lazzaroni (Pasquale Aleardi, Kommissar Dupin, A Royal Affair), a hot-headed, working-class Italian miner who, like Max, has a job on the tunnel project and needs a place to bed down. Enter Anna Tresch (Miriam Stein, The Team, Generation War), the quick-thinking and business-minded daughter of the local hauler who rents the one room above the barn on her father’s property to both men.
So begins the trio’s friendship… and love triangle.
With construction of the tunnel taking much longer than planned and the costs being much higher than budgeted, the board of directors of the Gotthard Railway Company in Bern pulls the plug on funding the project. It looks like all the work done so far will be for nothing until Max comes up with a plan that, only with Tommaso and Anna’s help, saves the tunnel.
However, as construction progresses, the number of worker deaths increases — pitting Tommaso, the de facto spokesman for the miners, and Max, now the lead engineer for the project, against each other. The tension between them, as well as with Anna, only increases when Tommaso makes a heartbreaking discovery.
Yet they persevere. And the tunnel is a success.
The story of the Gotthard Tunnel is quite interesting, and what I appreciate about Gotthard is that it doesn’t get sappy in the love story part of the narrative, nor does it get overly dramatic in relating the historical aspects of the tunnel’s construction.
Speaking of, several characters in the drama are actual people who were involved in the project. They include Swiss engineer and contractor Louis Favre (Carlos Leal, The Undertaker), Swiss politician Emil Welti (Hanspeter Müller, Night Train to Lisbon), and Alfred Escher (Pierre Siegenthaler, Tatort), the Swiss industrialist who helped found the Gotthard Railway Company. (The characters of Max, Tommaso, and Anna are fictional.)
Produced by Zodiac Pictures Ltd in co-production with MMC Zodiac and Wilma Film, Gotthard is directed by Urs Egger (Kennedy’s Brain) and features Maximilian Simonischek (SOKO Köln), Christoph Gaugler (The Undertaker), Walter Leonardi (Thou Shalt Not Kill), Silvia Busuioc (Veep), Joachim Król (Commissario Brunetti), and Marie Bäumer (In the Face of Crime).
Gotthard is currently streaming in the US on Prime Video. It is shown in Swiss German and Italian, with English subtitles available in the video settings.
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