In March of 1848 there was an aborted revolution in Berlin that serves as the pivot for the action in this film, the story beginning with an incident that quickly mushrooms out of control. A man fishing along a river bank decides to light up, when a policeman comes over to haul him in for violating the ordinance prohibiting outdoor smoking -- and the officer is thrown into the drink for his efforts. The news spreads, and soon women are protesting the price-fixing at bakeries, people are evicted for being arrears on their rent, and when an anarchist's flag is seen flapping from the window of an inn, a barricade is set up right in front of the inn's entrance. The innkeeper runs around trying to set things right again, a singer comes along who plies the gathering crowd (she wants to start her own establishment), a loving couple takes advantage of everyone's distraction to spend some quality time together, and the students keep streaming in to join the growing throng. Before long, everyone is geared up for a major confrontation with the king's soldiers when along comes a bunch of merry workers with a barrel of beer to celebrate the event -- and even though the fiery leader of the protest is as threatening as possible, the beer stays. Soon the Prussian king shows up waving a revolutionary flag and that sets everyone off -- but not exactly in the manner that the revolutionary leaders would have wanted.
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