Click on the green.
I must admit Austria is a country i’ve yet to get to grips with properly. In the late 80s, bound for Kitzbühel, on our only Austrian holiday to date, our coach was held up for 1 1/2 hours. Murmurs went round someone had got on the wrong coach. “There’s always one” i said to the person behind. A moment later our names were called by the tour escort. We were the ones (well, it was a cheap mystery destination break). All week, instead of sunny meadows a la Sound of Music, it rained and rained. We waited in the queue for the chair lift at the bottom of the mountain to take us up the Hahnenkamm where Franz Klammer had famously been king of the slopes- turned out we were at the foot of the Kitzbühelerhorn. When we did get up the Hahnenkamm it was pouring down. We had a great walk back down though, happily soaked through and wondering about any dangerous bears.
Here and here are just two reasons why Mozart was my mum’s favourite composer. But at his birthplace in torrential Salzburg (a gorgeous city) we found we’d lost some money and from the horrified expression of the doorman must have been the first to ever turn away from the great man’s place. What heathens! My wife fell on the wet bridge.
Austrian cinema is a bit slippery too. Preconceptions may be flummoxed. All that talent that helped make the German film industry great in the silent era, and then Hollywood: take out the Austrians and the development of cinema is unimaginable. In recent decades many of the top directors have been involved with avant-garde films- Kubelka, Kren, Export, Mattuschka, Tscherkassky, Deutsch, Widrich, Arnold and others providing a very strong subversive undercurrent in a country often thought Conservative. This list certainly has a high proportion of avant-garde, but look too for some sharp intelligent documentaries. Anyone wanting the romantic elegant confections of old Vienna should be charmed by Willi Forst’s Masquerade (and Ophuls’ Liebelei and Letter from an Unknown Woman for good measure). In more recent years, Austrian cinema’s international reputation was enhanced by The Counterfeiters’ Oscar for Best Foreign Film along with the Cannes Palme d’Or awarded to White Ribbon.
I’m tempted to include in this assortment list Peter Lorre’s officially German classic Der Verlorene. With Haneke (born Germany) i’ve gone for the Austrian rather than French stuff. The list is of the indigenous products, albeit including co-productions like White Ribbon, The Edukators and Darwin’s Nightmare. Not all are set in Austria: Jessica Hautner’s film Lourdes, about a “miraculous” faith cure, is set in…yes, you guessed it.
Of course, Austria is extremely beautiful and the rain reminded me of home, Wales; it keeps our countries fresh and green. Talking of colour, such a pity the Mubi user and avant-garde expert Grey Daisies is no longer on site. Best wishes to all good Austrian people.
Some Useful Links
SASCHA KOLOWRAT (pioneer)
OUTER SPACE (Tscherkassky)
Austrian Born Directors (who found fame elsewhere)
Fritz Lang- M, Metropolis, The Testament of Dr Mabuse, Fury, The Big Heat
Otto Preminger- Laura, Bonjour Tristesse, Anatomy of a Murder
Josef Von Sternberg- The Blue Angel, Morocco, Shanghai Express, The Scarlet Empress, The Devil is a Woman
Billy Wilder- Double Indemnity, Sunset Boulevard, Ace in the Hole, Some Like it Hot, The Apartment
Edgar Ulmer- People on Sunday, The Black Cat, Detour
Fred Zinnemann- High Noon, From Here to Eternity, The Day of the Jackal
Leontine Sagan: Madchen in Uniform
Austrian Set Films:
The Great Waltz
Letter from an Unknown Woman
The Third Man
The Sound of Music
Quantum of Solace
Internationally Famous Austrian Performers:
Klaus Maria Brandauer
Romy Schneider (Austro-German, born Vienna)
Not on Mubi:
Sodom und Gomorrha (Curtiz)
Die Stadt ohne Juden (Breslauer)
Bel Ami (Daquin)
Kassbach – Ein Porträt (Patzak)
Der Schüler Gerber (Glück)
Ein wenig sterben (Mahdavi)
Die toten Fische (Synek)
Hasenjagd – Vor lauter Feigheit gibt es kein Erbarmen (Gruber)
The Silent Ocean (Schwarzenberger)
White Ribbon (Haneke)
Invisible Adversaries (Export)
Film ist 1-6 (Deutsch)
Outer Space (Tscherkassky)
Fast Film (Widrich)