It was a notorious traffic jam for decades. There was no escaping this for motorists on the Amsterdam-Berlin route. Between Osnabrück and Hanover, traffic suddenly prevented from being squeezed through the town of Bad Oeshausen.
That this is a spa only betrayed the name to the impatient traveller. It was doomed to shift from traffic light to traffic light, past a landscape of gas stations, sex shops and shops with dusty shop windows. After 6.7 kilometers you could again always ready on the Autobahn.
The Dutch filmmaker Daniel Abma had the good idea to get out of the car in Bad Oeynhausen and talk to the people who live and work in that stinking bottleneck. And he didn’t defend it in one go. For years he came back to hear about the progress of the decades-old plan to build a half ring road along the north side of the city, to relieve the city center.
It has resulted in a beautiful, melancholy documentary, which is not self-evident in a film about highways. But highway (this Wednesday on WDR) is mainly about people and is supported by a dozen residents of Bad Oeynhausen, which Abma has visited time and again over the years. The filmmaker managed to create such an atmosphere of life that they not only tell us what that road means to them, but at the same time offer moving insights into their lives.
Bodybuilder by age
You soon become fond of them. A woman who runs a shop selling fabrics and knitwear on a busy thoroughfare fears the day when the new road will finally be finished and the city center will be renovated, because then her landlord will want to do something different with the property. An aging bodybuilder thinks back to the years when in Berlin the love parade was held and half of the Netherlands passed on their way to the east.
An immigrant from Kazakhstan carries sandwich signs (“Jesus lives”) along the road, where 25,000 converts pass by in both directions every day. A couple with a dachshund even live in the greenery north of the city – until the excavation work for the diversion begins in front of their door.
The mayor hopes to win the elections in order to open the new road. But when the time has finally come on a gray December day in 2018, he has to see how his successor cuts the ribbon.