Zeppelin is a 1971 British World War I action-drama film of a fictitious German attempt to raid Great Britain in a giant Zeppelin and steal the Magna Carta from its hiding place in one of Scotland's castles. The film stars Michael York, Elke Sommer and Anton Diffring, and was directed by Etienne Perrier.
- jaar uitgave: 1971
- regisseur: Etienne Périer
Written by producer Owen Crump, the story is set in mid-1915, during the First World War. Geoffrey Richter-Douglas (Michael York), a Scotsman of German descent, is a lieutenant in the British Army. He meets Stephanie (Alexandra Stewart), a German spy with whom he falls in love. She suggests that he escape to Germany, where the other members of his family and his friends are. As a loyal soldier he reports this contact to his commanding officer, Captain Whitney, but he too wants Geoffrey to go to Germany – on a secret mission to steal construction details, performance figures and specifications of the new type Zeppelin LZ36 under development at Friedrichshafen. Geoffrey leaves England undercover, adopting the persona of a deserter to make him more convincing to the Germans. He soon arrives at Friedrichshafen, where he meets his long-time friend Professor Altschul (Marius Goring), who lives with his beautiful and much younger wife, Erika (Elke Sommer). Geoffrey quickly learns that German intelligence did not take him to Germany for a family reunion following a meeting with Intelligence Colonel Hirsch (Anton Diffring), who insists that he must be on board the LZ36 for its maiden test flight. But the test flight is only a blind, for in defiance of procedure, the aircraft is commissioned as soon as it is declared airworthy to take part in a military operation in which Geoffrey will play a key role. A great many British historical documents including the Magna Carta are to be stolen from their secure storage at Balcoven Castle in Scotland by a hand-picked team of soldiers, using the airship as the means to carry out the operation. After refuelling in Norway and taking on board a contingent of German soldiers the airship proceeds to Balcoven Castle. As the ship approaches the castle under cover of darkness Geoffrey is suspended in a basket to help the pilot navigate. A local farmer hears the sound of the airship's engines just before they are cut, and raises the alarm with the local military base. With no option but to participate in the assault, Geoffrey enters the castle with the raiding party, but manages to slip away in the darkness and find the communications room. He tries to persuade a sceptical radio operator to contact London, but as the sounds of shooting and explosions are heard the operator decides that Geoffrey is a German spy and shoots him in the arm. Meanwhile, alerted by the farmer's report, the British Admiralty has scrambled several squadrons of aircraft and dispatched ground troops to Balcoven Castle. The British troops engage the Germans, who decide to withdraw empty-handed rather than risk losing the Zeppelin. The airship manages to slip away under cover of darkness with a much depleted crew, but shortly after first light is caught by pursuing British aircraft, despite having desperately lost as much weight as possible in an effort to gain maximum height. Several aircraft are shot down in the ensuing dogfight and the Zeppelin is badly damaged, but the pilot manages to crash land the airship near the coast of neutral Holland. Geoffrey, Erika and the few remaining crew members make their way to the shore just as the Zeppelin explodes behind them.