Austrian film history

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Icon of Austrian film: Hans Moser

The Austrian film history is concerned with the development of the Austrian film since the first film screening in Vienna in 1896 to the present. The history of newsreels in Austria and Austrian cinema history are treated separately in separate articles.

In comparison to other European countries, Austrian film production developed late and only very slowly at first. The first short films appeared in cinemas in 1906 - but from 1910 production increased rapidly and reached its peak in the years after the First World War . In these years Austria was one of the leading film producers in the world, with Sascha-Film being one of the largest producers in Europe.

From the 1920s, Germany became a center of attraction for Austrian filmmakers with the European film metropolis Berlin. Directors such as Max Reinhardt , Fritz Lang and G. W. Pabst , Josef von Sternberg , Richard Oswald , Fritz Kortner and Peter Lorre celebrated great successes there. When the persecution of Jews and those who think differently began in Germany, many initially returned to Austria, where, however, at the latest with the Anschluss in 1938, they could only flee. Around 400 Jewish-Austrian filmmakers emigrate - including, in addition to those already mentioned, Billy Wilder , Fred Zinnemann and Otto Preminger . Some have had a terrific career in Hollywood - 33 of 35 “Austrian” Oscars went to Jewish filmmakers who had been expelled from Austria.

During the Second World War , Vienna became the main production site for National Socialist feature and propaganda films, alongside Munich and Berlin . After the end of the war, the focus was on homeland films and comedies that spread a positive atmosphere . It was not until the 1960s that when the traditional film industry declined, something new could emerge. The avant-garde film took on the role of paving the way for the new Austrian film . From the 1980s onwards, this produced diverse and critical filmmaking, which has been attracting increasing attention at international film festivals since the late 1990s.

Silent movie era

Early silent film (1896-1914)

A stereoscope in the “ Kaiserpanorama ” Prater cinema around 1900

Although Austrian scientists and inventors have always actively contributed to the development of film technology, the early phase of silent film in Austria was one of French film entrepreneurs. The first documented public film screening took place on March 20, 1896 in the Vienna kk teaching and research institute for photography and reproduction processes with the Lumière cinematograph in front of an invited audience. In the following years the first cinemas were opened, in which mostly foreign films were shown. At that time, however, one couldn't speak of real films. For technical reasons, only a few minutes long documentary and fictional “short films” with titles such as felling a tree , feeding pigeons , shooting a spy in the Turkish-Greek war or an uncanny dream were produced . There were no full-time film actors at that time. Mostly amateur actors played. The first "movie stars" with recognition value did not emerge until more complex and longer productions in the mid-1910s.

The first Austrian short and documentary films were not made until 1903. The first short films with fictional plot dates from 1906. Real fictional films were only made from 1910 - at a time when countries like France and Great Britain were already through their first cinema crisis, which was caused by more complex and more imaginative films could be overcome. Austria was spared this crisis due to the lack of its own film production - the first feature films had nonetheless learned the lessons of foreign countries, one of which was based on the new French Film d'Art .

The disadvantage in international competition caused by the late start of Austrian films was made up for by the film industry in the First World War, which banned “hostile” films and companies from the Austrian market. Austrian film production was probably the only economic sector that emerged stronger from the First World War. For about five years Austrian films were exported en masse to other countries, where up to 90 percent of the proceeds were achieved. As in most of Europe, there was an economic crisis in the film industry, to which Austria responded with import restrictions after demonstrations by filmmakers. Up to the end of the silent film era around 1930, film production was on a normal scale for a small country, between 20 and 30 productions per year.

First Austrian film productions

Announcement of the program change in Eugène Dupont's projection room in mid-April 1896 in the “Illustrierte Wiener Extrablatt”
Erotic recordings for men’s evenings - produced from 1906 by the Viennese photographer Johann Schwarzer.

The first film companies in Austria came from France. In 1904, Pathé Frères was the first to open a branch in Vienna. Gaumont followed in 1908 and the Société Eclair in 1909 . They caused great competition in the newsreel sector for regular Austrian film production, which began in 1910, until the outbreak of World War I. The oldest surviving film recording made in Austria was also made by the French: by the Lumière brothers , in 1896. The first Austrian film company was a pure film distribution company, which was founded in 1905.

In 1897 in Höritz in the Bohemian Forest, the first performance of locally produced film material that was shot in support of the play took place during the performance of the play The Life and Death of Jesus Christ . Further Austrian film recordings were presented in December 1898 in the Wiener Neustädter Hotel “Zum golden Hirschen”. In the style of the first film recordings by the Lumière brothers, the traveling cinema by Gottfried Findeis showed, among other things, the arrival of a train at the Wiener Neustadt station , a tunnel ride in the observation car recorded during the journey and the workers' exit from the Wiener Neustadt locomotive factory .

The oldest surviving film recording from Austrian production is the documentary The Imperial Visit to Braunau / Inn from 1903, taken by the traveling cinema owner Johann Bläser. It was not until the middle of 1906 that the first Austrian short film was produced - around ten years later than France or Great Britain, for example. In that year the Viennese photographer Johann Schwarzer began producing erotic short films, which are the oldest known domestic film productions. With his Saturn film he distributed the films, which had titles such as Eine Moderne Ehe (1906), Am Sklavenmarkt , Das Sandbad and Female Wrestlers , also abroad. His business activities came to an end in 1911 when the police confiscated the films.

The first full-length Austrian feature film, From Step to Step , with a length of 35 minutes , is said to have been made under the direction of Heinz Hanus together with Luise Kolm , her husband Anton Kolm , and assistant Jacob Julius Fleck and premiered in Vienna in December 1908. The only person who was able to testify to this in research that was only carried out decades later was the supposed screenwriter and director Heinz Hanus himself. In newspaper reports or the two film magazines of the time, however, contrary to the usual practice at the time, there was no indication of a screening to find this film. There is also no other evidence such as scripts.

In 1909 the first precisely datable documentary film from Austrian production was released. Between September 8 and 11, 1909, Photobrom GmbH in Groß Meseritsch filmed the imperial maneuvers in Moravia , on which Emperor Franz-Joseph and his German colleague Kaiser Wilhelm II acted.

In 1910 the "First Austrian Cinema Film Industry", the later Wiener Kunstfilm , was founded by the married couple Anton and Luise Kolm and Jakob Fleck. Their first production appeared in the spring of the year and was a documentary entitled Der Faschingszug in Ober-St. Vitus . A little later, on March 14th, the start-up filmed the funeral of Mayor Karl Lueger . The film was shown in 22 cinemas in Vienna. In the (short) feature film production, Anton Kolm introduced the comic short film based on the French model . With the Berlin actor Oscar Sabo he had found his leading actor for The Evil Mother-in-Law (1910). The literary film adaptation The Ahnfrau (1910) was made in the same year. These films are the oldest known Austrian feature films. The oldest surviving Austrian feature film was made a year later: The Miller and His Child (1911). In addition to short feature films - literary adaptations based on the French model of the Film d'Art as well as comic short films - news reports for newsreels and documentary recordings from Austria were an important pillar for a few more years. The first productions of the first Austrian film production company also included types and Scenes from Viennese folk life , where the famous Viennese folk singer Edmund Guschelbauer could be seen, and Karl Blasel as a dentist (1912) with the leading actor of the same name, who had been a popular Viennese comedian for decades.

Film scene around 1910

Certain sections of the population and the authorities saw cinema and film in the years of their creation, despite their general great popularity, or precisely because of that, as “unculture”. A law banned children from going to the cinema from 1910, and complicated censorship exams continued to make life difficult for the film industry. Protests by cinema and filmmakers from 1907 onwards, who joined together in associations from 1910, did not lead to relief until 1912, at the “International Cinematographers Congress” in Vienna. The Vice-President of the “Federation of Cinema Industries ”, Alexander Ortony , pointed out in a speech on this occasion that “many civilized peoples are completely without censorship, and nobody can claim that France, Italy or Hungary are therefore on the verge of ruin” . Nevertheless, actors at the Burgtheater were still forbidden to take part in films in any form until 1918 . Exceptions were very rare. Other theaters, such as the Volkstheater , followed this example in order to protect themselves from direct competitors, the cinema. It was only with the appearances of Alexander Girardi and the productions of the artistic director Max Reinhardt from 1913 that the situation began to ease somewhat.

In 1911 the German-Austrian co-production Der Müller und seine Kind , part one, appeared in which, in addition to the German silent film stars Henny Porten and Friedrich Zelnik , Curt A. Stark also played an Austrian, as well as the purely Austrian sequel with a different cast, The miller and his child, part II , produced by the Viennese art film industry , the most important Austrian film company of those years. The second part is today the oldest surviving Austrian full-length silent film. In its productions, the Viennese art film industry relied on literature from contemporary writers such as Ernst Raupach , Franz Grillparzer , E. T. A. Hoffmann and Ludwig Anzengruber . In doing so, it oriented itself towards its French name-relatives, the Parisian production company "Film d'Art", which ordered its manuscripts from the most famous authors as early as 1908 in order to have them realized by the directors and actors of the largest French theaters.

In 1912 the librettist Felix Dörmann jointly founded the “ Vindobona Film ”, which was subsequently renamed several times. Since Dörmann's productions did not bring the hoped-for success, he speculated with the visitors' need for nude scenes. It appeared such films as A Day in the Life of a beautiful woman , the goddess of love and infidelity , thereby stood out that the major performing women were often shown in the bathroom when stocking exchange and even in the toilet. The bathing scenes in particular were the reason for the police to censor these films, even years after Johann Schwarzer's “spicy films”.

1912 was the year in which the theater director and artistic director Max Reinhardt realized his first film project in Austria. With his specially founded film company, he directed the literary film adaptation of The Miracle before he finally moved to Berlin in 1913 in order to produce, among other things, the literary film The Island of the Blessed , which caused a sensation with its extensive nude and sex scenes.

As the domestic and international film industry flourished, more film magazines gradually emerged. “Das Lichtbild-Theater” and “Dramagraph-Woche” followed from 1911, and from 1912 “Filmkunst” appeared, which was commissioned by the “Cinéma Eclair”. Also in 1912 was the "Kastalia", which was published for academic and educational films by school people. In the following years "Die Filmwoche" (from 1913) and " Paimann's Filmlisten " (from 1916) followed - a magazine in which until 1965 reviews of all films released in Austria were listed in lexical form.

Development of filmmaking until 1914

On March 15, 1912, the premiere of the first major film from Austrian production took place in Vienna: The Unknown - based on a crime drama by Oskar Bendiener . The director was Luise Kolm , who turned 10,000 meters of negative material and used 10,000 crowns for the production. The actors hired, among others, the Viennese crowd favorite Karl Blasel as well as Viktor Kutschera , Karl Ehmann , Anton Edthofer , Hans Homma and Eugenie Bernay .

In November 1912, when other Austrian film production companies were already fighting for market share in the cinemas with foreign competition, Das Gänsehäufel was the first documentary of the Viennese art film industry , which, in addition to weekly news reports of current events, mainly concentrated on feature films. In the same year, Alexander Joseph "Sascha" Count Kolowrat-Krakowsky , who had just moved to Vienna, founded the " Sascha Film Factory " in what is now the district of Liesing in Vienna . His first production was the extraction of ore on the Styrian Erzberg in Eisenerz . Austria's first historical feature film followed: Kaiser Joseph II. The “Vindobona-Film” production Die Musikantenlene was also released in 1912 , with the critically acclaimed leading actress Eugenie Bernay.

As the most interesting discovery of that year the comedian applies Heinrich Eisenbach included in the " Budapest Orpheum ", one in the center of the Jewish immigrant neighborhood in Vienna- Leopoldstadt located cabaret completed his first appearances. He performed well-known cabaret solo scenes in films such as house ball at the Blunzenwirt or Klabriaspartie . In ' Die Zirkusgräfin' of the “Vindobona Film” from 1912 he played the circus clown, alongside Eugenie Bernay as “Minka”. Felix Dörmann himself also appeared in this 900 meter long film as "Graf Veckenhüller".

In September 1913, sound films were presented for the first time in Vienna with screenings under the title “Talking Film” in the Sofiensäle ( Edison Kinetophon and Gaumont screenings ). For various reasons - mainly because of the high material costs and the inadequate international rental at the time - these were not very well received.

In 1914 Max Neufeld , who quickly became the first star of Viennese art films , played in "The Pastor of Kirchfeld" . A little later "Frau Gertraud nameless" followed , where he played alongside the popular actress Hansi Niese , who in 1913 also played a small role in "Johann Strauss on the beautiful blue Danube" . Also in 1914 there was a monumental production by the French director Pierre Paul Gilmans , “Speckbacher” , which dealt with the Tyrolean struggle for freedom against Napoleon. Original Speckbacher sabers and 2000 extras, also carrying historical weapons, were used for the recordings, in which members of the Exl stage such as Eduard Köck were also involved .

In the first years of Austrian film production, around 130 short and longer feature films were made up to 1914, many of them based on their own ideas or original books from home, some - especially when it came to technology - also influenced by foreign countries, especially France. There were also over 210 documentaries. The spectrum of Austrian filmmaking ranged from short documentaries and weekly news reports, small folk plays, drama adaptations and family dramas, crime stories, operettas and historical large-scale films to grotesques.

The Austrian film historian Walter Fritz stated on Austrian filmmaking in the prewar period: “The thoughts of the historian Johnston on the creative power of the monarchy, which apparently saw itself as a 'happy apocalypse', show that a final mood prevailed, which was and was seen by the critics at the time had the strength to work to this day. "

During World War I (1914–1918)

In the course of the mutual declarations of war by the major European powers that led to World War I , France also became the enemy of Austria-Hungary, which among other things resulted in the dissolution of all French film companies in the monarchy. At the same time, the import of foreign films was banned. In the following war years, the expected upswing in domestic film production occurred, but this happened much more slowly than expected.

The story of the newsreel in Austria began in September 1914, when Wiener Kunstfilm brought the “War Journal” to the cinemas every week . The competition responded a little later with the “Sascha War Weekly Report”, which is also published every week .

In 1915 Sascha Kolowrat-Krakowsky was transferred from the Automobile Corps in Galicia to the war press headquarters in Vienna, where he took over the management of the film exhibition, which was subordinate to the war archive. In this role, he had the necessary employees and actors assigned to the military. Most of the Austrian actors of the time escaped death and imprisonment in the war. A well-known exception, however, was Max Neufeld , who could only reappear as a hero and lover after his military service. He also saved numerous directors and other filmmakers, including the young talents Karl Hartl , Fritz Freisler , Gustav Ucicky and Hans Theyer , from the threat of military service.

In 1916, Kolowrat-Krakowsky had a hangar frame delivered from Düsseldorf in order to set up the first large film studio in Sievering , which was already missing from some directors . It was the first free-standing film studio in Austria. On April 4 of that year, the previously loose collaboration between Kolowrat-Krakowsky and Oskar Messter resulted in the "Oesterreichisch-Hungarian Sascha-Meßter-Film Gesellschaft mbH", later Sascha-Meßter-Film .

Development of film production during the war

In addition to the countless newsreels and dozen of propaganda films that were produced during the five years of the war, other changes in film production also made themselves felt. Hardly any detective films were produced, and grotesque fun games , which were very popular until recently, almost completely disappeared from cinemas. Instead, social dramas, more difficult literary comedies and costume films were booming. The number of films shown fell sharply at the beginning of the war due to the import ban on films from warring nations such as France, Great Britain or the United States. However, the domestic film producers soon adjusted to the new market situation, and so domestic production rose to record levels until 1918, when the cinemas could no longer be heated due to a lack of coal and a lack of raw film put film production in distress.

Ludwig Anzengruber's works , which often took place in a rural setting, were particularly popular among literature sources. Among others, "The Perjury Farmer" (1915), "Under the Spell of Duty" (1917), "The Schandfleck" (1917) or "The Double Suicide" (1918) were filmed with great success. As film reviews of the time described the actions, variety, scripts and directing practices, Austrian film production has developed significantly at that time. The scripts were more elaborate and the plot was easier to understand despite the greater complexity. The German expressionist film of the 1920s had already anticipated a number of thematically. For example in “The Snake of Passion” from 1918, which is very similar to the German film Der Blaue Engel (1930) but also Carl Theodor Dreyer's Vampyr (1932) in terms of subject matter. Other pre-expressionist films made in Austria between 1917 and 1919 were “The Mandarin” (1918), “The Letter of a Dead” , “The Waning Heart” and “The Other I” (1918). The screenwriters and directors Carl Mayer , Hans Janowitz and Fritz Freisler were the main representatives of early film expressionism in Austria .

In the years before, Wiener Kunstfilm and Sascha-Film or Sascha-Meßter-Film were the largest domestic production companies, but space was offered to new companies in isolated Austria-Hungary. With Filmag , A-Zet Film , Astoria-Film and Leyka Film , new producers were able to assert themselves on the market. While around 120 films were produced between 1906 and 1914, it was between 180 and 190 during the war years. There were also a large number of war newsreels that were also shown in cinemas. Some of the propaganda documentaries and films were "The Liberation of Bukovina" , "War at 3000 Meters Altitude" , "Day of Fight among the Tyrolean Imperial Hunters" and the two-part series "The Economic Development of Montenegro" and "The Collapse of the Italian Front" . These films were nevertheless checked by the censors.

A well-known propaganda film by the "Sascha-Messter", which was supposed to teach skeptics and war opponents "wrong", was about a complainer who saw in a dream the efforts of the soldiers in the war, which shook him very much. When in “reality” two boys have too little money to be able to subscribe to war bonds, he gives them the money and also draws himself. Other noteworthy propaganda films were the “Wiener Kunstfilm” productions “The Dream of an Austrian Reservist” (1915 ), With heart and hand for the fatherland (1915), With God for the emperor and empire (1916), “Free service” (1918).

The quality of such films naturally took a backseat, as it was only a matter of arousing and maintaining enthusiasm for war among the population. The film reviews only knew good films and raved about the content. In 1918, Sascha-Meßter-Film dared to film a work by Beethoven . Fritz Kortner played Beethoven so well in The Martyr of His Heart that he subsequently advanced to become one of the most important expressionist actors in German-speaking countries.

For example, recordings were made in the large, newly built “Sascha-Film” film studio in Vienna-Sievering, where trenches were dug. More often than before the war, the film music came from well-known composers such as Franz Lehár and Carl Michael Ziehrer , who, like many other cultural personalities of the time, were inspired by the war. Rare, but all the more prominent, criticism of the propaganda films came from Karl Kraus , who publicly criticized the war press headquarters , the “Sascha-Film”, Hubert Marischka , fellow poets and newsreel operators.

In 1914 Robert Müller , owner of the film production company of the same name, made his first attempts at animation. He engaged the draftsman Theo Zasche who produced several propaganda caricatures for the cinema for the current occasion. In the following years, Ladislaus Tuszyński and Peter Eng, two more versatile representatives of the first Austrian attempts at animation, appeared. Of all the films produced during the First World War, recordings of only four films exist.

First movie stars

What made film stars so special at the time was that they could live on the fees from the film business without having to work in theaters on the side. The fees for the films therefore had to be correspondingly higher if actors did not come from the theater and did not pursue any other activities, which would have been difficult anyway with the abundance of film productions. Seen in this way, two film stars emerged in the course of the increasing number of domestic productions during the First World War: Liane Haid at Wiener Kunstfilm and Magda Sonja at Sascha-Film . There were no male movie stars in this sense, but there were plenty of busy male actors who, however, also pursued theatrical acting or cabaret. Some of the most famous of these were Hubert Marischka , Georg Reimers , Franz Höbling , Otto Tressler and Willy Thaller . There were other stars only at the theater, although these could occasionally be won over for film appearances, such as Hermann Benke , Karl Baumgartner , Hermann Romberg , Josef Reithofer , Anton Edthofer , Friedrich Fehér and Hans Rhoden .

1915 was the year Austria's first film star got his first role. Liane Haid played a double role in the propaganda film "With heart and hands for the fatherland" . In contrast to other busy actors at Wiener Kunstfilm, she received 200 kroner a month from the start, instead of the usual 150. The production company gradually built her into a star, and by 1918 the monthly fee rose to 400 kroner. In 1917 she starred in Der Verschwender - a film adaptation of a play by Ferdinand Raimund . With a play length of 3400 meters, this was the longest Austrian production to date. Wiener Kunstfilm thus lived up to its pioneering role even before Sascha-Film, as in many other areas. Liane Haid later made numerous other films for other film companies. Her successor as a film star at Wiener Kunstfilm was first Dora Kaiser , who came from A-Zet-Film , and a little later Thea Rosenquist . At Sascha-Film, the most popular actress at that time was Magda Sonja .

Later silent film (1918–1929)

Silent film production of
short and longer feature films
year number
1918 90-100
1919 130
1920 142
1921 120 - 135 *
1922 130 *
1923 35
1924 32
1925 35
1926 19th
1927 21st
1928 28
1929 23
1930 15th
* of which 70 to 75 feature films each

In the interwar period, on the one hand, the number of Austrian productions continued to rise, on the other hand, the Austrian and German film industries became more and more mixed . Austrian filmmakers participated in German productions and vice versa. The years after the First World War were also marked by strong inflation , which is also reflected in the content of some films.

In 1919 the French journalist and author Zo d'Axa took the view that comedy films had to be dramatic , like the Irish or the American. With the Viennese film comedy, however, he stated: “The Viennese funny seems to be in the spoken and sung word, if at all, so something that makes the Viennese laugh on stage can only be a dull shimmer of a comedy in the film . ” The first actor who, according to this observation, made the Viennese laugh by speaking and singing was Hans Moser , who got his first roles in the 1920s, but was only able to show his true abilities with the sound film .

Since the introduction of the Cinematographs Ordinance in 1912, the terms and conditions for awarding cinema licenses have changed insofar as licenses to run cinemas and light shows were granted to non-profit organizations rather than individuals in the post-war years. As a result of the First World War , these were mainly war veterans , invalids and widows' associations , as they emerged in large numbers in the years after 1918. People's education associations, which ran a number of Viennese cinemas , especially during the years of “ Red Vienna ” - best known is the “Kosmos Kino” in Vienna's Neubau - were given preferential licenses.

Leading production companies in these years were the Sascha-Film , the Astoria-Film , Listo-Film , Schönbrunn-Film and the Dreamland-Film . The Wiener Kunstfilm took a back seat , but was later re-established as Vita-Film , and again achieved a place among the leading production companies. While Sascha-Film was based on American productions, Vita-Film, like its predecessor Wiener Kunstfilm, took on French models. On December 31, 1922, the Filmbund was founded, an amalgamation of all interest groups for Austrian filmmakers.

At the beginning of the 1920s, monumental films also came into fashion in Austria . The reason was of course business interest, as such exotic large-scale productions, in which nude scenes were featured in addition to unprecedented mass scenes and detailed backdrops and costumes, attracted the audience in droves. There was also interest, especially since the tomb of the Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamun was discovered in 1922 , which caused a sensation worldwide and triggered a veritable fashion wave.

At the beginning of the 1920s, numerous Hungarian filmmakers also fled the Béla Kun regime to Austria, which is reflected in the film production. The most important directors of Austrian monumental films - Alexander Korda and Michael Curtiz , who called himself Michael Kertész at the time - were Hungarians. A few other big names in Hungarian film at the time who moved to Vienna at the time were Vilma Bánky , Michael Varkonyi , Béla Balázs and Oskar Beregi . Although the monarchy no longer existed, Austrian filmmaking was still shaped by many, now foreign, filmmakers.

High point of film production after the end of the war

Theo Zasche cinema pictures 1920

Austrian film production reached its peak in the years 1919 to 1922. 130 feature films were produced in 1919, and 1920 was the most productive year in Austrian film history with 142 feature films. In 1921 and 1922, 70 to 75 normal and large films followed, as well as 50 to 60 one-act comedies. Due to the many architectural monuments, enchanting landscapes and the diverse culture and literature, there were a large number of locations and film themes.

Paradoxically, the reason for this extraordinarily high production in a small state suffering from the consequences of war was one of the worst consequences of the war: enormous inflation. This weakened the Austrian currency enormously, so that Austrian films abroad were cheaper than comparable productions. This competitive advantage was also recognized by banks and investors, who accordingly promoted high film output. This financial speculation was, of course, not exactly conducive to demanding and artistic productions. However, among the hundreds of films of these years, there are still a few films that aimed at a certain level. After all, there were still talented filmmakers. Although the equipment of the film studios lagged behind that of the German competition, equally large effects and films could be produced with simpler means.

First film production facilities outside Vienna

After the end of the monarchy, Vienna's importance as “Austria's film production city” increased even further. Depending on the film theme, the federal states only served as landscape backdrops, with Lower Austria being used disproportionately often for outdoor shots due to its geographical proximity. Attempts to compete with Viennese film in other cities were hardly successful. In Graz in 1919 the "Alpin-Film", in 1920 the "Opern-Film" under Adolf Peter and Ludwig Loibner and in 1921 the "Mitropa-Musikfilm" were founded. In Innsbruck the "Tiroler-Heimatfilm" was productive from 1921 and in Salzburg the "Salzburger-Kunstfilm" started its activity in 1921. What all these companies had in common was that they had only a short lifespan. Not least because it was founded shortly before the great crisis in European film production in the mid-1920s.

In 1921 the Salzburger Stiegl brewery in Maxglan made agricultural buildings available to the newly founded “Salzburger-Kunstfilm”. The young film production company set up a laboratory and a film studio there . The documentary “Die Festspiele 1921” was immediately made, in which Alexander Moissi could be seen as “ Jedermann ”, Werner Krauss as “Death” and Hedwig Bleibtreu as “Faith”. The first feature film, “The Tragedy of Carlo Pinetti” with the main actor Alphons Fryland , won an award on January 29, 1924 in Vienna. A second should never take place, as the company with its headquarters in the hotel “Österreichischer Hof” went bankrupt in 1925 - in the middle of the worst crisis in Austrian silent film .

Expressionism and New Objectivity

In 1920 Paul Czinner's “most important” film appeared - as he said in retrospect on television in 1970 - during his creative time in Vienna: the early expressionist film “Inferno” . In Berlin, at that time a career springboard for numerous Austrian filmmakers, he kept in touch with the Austrian authors Carl Mayer and Hans Janowitz , who were currently working on the template for Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari as well as for Fritz Lang , who was just staging “ The Lord of Love ” and was at the beginning of his successful career. They all have in common the expressionist influence in their works. Czinner also reported that he wanted movement in the film and had a camera mounted on a tricycle for this purpose . This is said to have been the first tracking shot that was then used and further developed worldwide. Only a few years later, the German cameraman Karl Freund perfected the tracking shot with his "unleashing cameras" and thus immensely enriched the stylistic narrative possibilities of German expressionist film and, subsequently, international film art.

In the area of New Objectivity , “Durch die Quartiere des Elends und Verbrechens” (1920), based on the social report of the same name from the Viennese sewer system by journalist Emil Kläger , was one of the first representatives - probably the first ever filmed social report in Austrian film. In the following years, feature films were also released that dealt with the dreary situation in inflation and poverty-stricken Austria after the First World War: "Women from the Wiener Vorstadt" (1925), "Haifische der Nachkriegszeit" (1926), "Saccho und Vanzetti" (1927), “Other Women” (1928), “A Whore Has Been Murdered” (1930), to name a few.

In 1921, 25 years after the publication of the utopian work “ Der Judenstaat ” by Theodor Herzl , a tribute to this author and psychologist appeared: “Theodor Herzl, the standard-bearer of the Jewish people” . In 1924 the horror film " Orlac's hands " appeared with the expressionist actor Conrad Veidt as "Orlac" and Robert Wiene as the director. In 1924, the film adaptation of Hugo Bettauer's novel The City without Jews , in which Bettauer recognized the signs of the times, was completed under the direction of Hans Karl Breslauer . One of his first roles in this film was given to Hans Moser , who plays an anti-Semitic parliamentarian.

The most famous film adaptation of a Hugo Bettauer work, however, was the 1925 production Die joudlose Gasse under director GW Pabst . The film, which is still shown internationally as a representative of early filmmaking, first appeared in cinemas after Hugo Bettauer was murdered by an NSDAP member. The film was recorded in Berlin studios, with the actors Greta Garbo , Asta Nielsen and Werner Krauss. He played in contemporary Vienna, which is heavily influenced by inflation, and is internationally regarded as the high point of New Objectivity in film. In France, Pabst achieved almost more fame than in German-speaking countries with this film, which ran there as “La rue sans joie” .

Enlightenment and freedom of movement as new film topics

In the wake of the emerging more revealing fashion in everyday life and the "New Objectivity" as a realistic style in many areas of art, the established film companies now dared to make for the first time more revealing films. So appeared Anita Berber than poor clad dancer in "wisps of depth" (1923), and " Café Elektric " were not only Marlene Dietrich provided detail on display, but also extended kissing scenes with legs Willi Forst shown.

The 1920s became the “golden age” of educational and moral films . Films made use of physical freedom as well as dream and mad scenes. In relation to this, “Was ist Liebe?” Appeared in 1924 with Dora Kaiser and Carmen Cartellieri and “Moderne Vast” on alcoholism. In 1928 another Hugo Bettauer film was released with “Other Women” .

If the Enlightenment films prevailed between 1918 and 1924, the films from 1927 such as “From the house of joy to marriage” and 1930 “Eros in chains” were more marked by voyeurism . The first educational film appeared in 1918 and dealt with hereditary diseases: "The scourge of humanity" . As in so many styles of film, the Viennese art film industry was a pioneer this time too . Educational films were often financed by the state and productions such as “Alcohol, Sexuality and Crime” and “How do I tell my child?” From Pan-Film were released . With "Paragraph 144" the termination of pregnancy was also addressed in a film production. Many of these educational films were directed by Leopold Niernberger , with the help of learned professors.

In 1930 the actress and dancer Anita Berber died , who until then had caused a sensation in Viennese variety theaters with half-naked or nude appearances. This was documented in 1923 in the film "Dances of Horror and Vice" , which has not survived today .

Elaborate monumental films

As early as 1920 Sascha Kolowrat-Krakowsky had the film city "Old London" built in the Vienna Prater, west of the rotunda. There Alexander Korda shot “Prince and Beggar Boy” , based on a novel by Mark Twain . In 1922, Alexander Korda's production "A Sunken World" even received a film award in Milan.

In 1922 the monumental film " Sodom and Gomorrah " was released , produced by Sascha-Film Sascha Kolowrat-Krakowskys. He hired Michael Curtiz to direct . Although the film could not impress with its often opaque storylines, it was at least the most elaborate production ever made in Austria. For the gigantic backdrops built especially for the film, the shooting even had to be moved from the film studios in Sievering to the Laaer Berg . There were also thousands of extras and around a thousand employees behind the scenes.

In 1924, Die Sklavenkönigin divided the Red Sea in the middle of Vienna . Thanks to trick-technical post-processing, the gigantic wooden construction, from which all the water was drained from both sides at once, is no longer recognizable. María Corda appeared as the revealingly dressed leading actress . The director was again Michael Curtiz. This time too, neither expense nor effort was spared and thousands of extras as well as elaborate costumes and sets were used. At around 1.5 billion crowns, it was one of the most expensive Austrian films ever.

In 1925 Sascha-Film produced its last large-scale production - a co-production with a French company. The literary film adaptation "Salammbô - The Battle for Carthage" was shot in Vienna and in the Sascha film studio in Sievering . The leading actress was the French Jeanne de Balzac , who appeared in elaborate, martial costumes in the film set at the time of the Punic Wars . The film music was written by Florent Schmitt , and the film review emphasized that "the music came closer to the novel than the film itself" .

In 1925, Pan-Film made a large-scale production of a different kind with Der Rosenkavalier , based on the opera of the same name . The film, directed by Robert Wiene , took place in baroque Vienna and came up with countless costumes, wigs and around 10,000 extras. For the film music, which was recorded separately on a record, came from Richard Strauss as in the opera piece . Like the opera, the premiere also took place in the Dresden Semperoper .

Film economic crisis due to enormous US competition

After the most productive years in 1921 and 1922, film production began to decline rapidly again in 1923. In 1924 only 32 films were produced, compared to around 130 in 1922. The lavish monumental films were only the financial high point of this time, because US film productions had long since made Austrian films increasingly competitive in the cinemas. The American film industry brought in the production costs in the United States and was able to throw its films on the market worldwide at the lowest prices. Since the quality of American films had steadily increased, not least due to the constant immigration of European filmmakers and their knowledge, while the quality of the European film industry was almost at a standstill during the First World War, there was little to oppose to US productions.

In 1925 the US film flood, which had paralyzed French , British and Italian films , also reached Austria. 1200 US productions were approved for import by the censorship authority, while in Austria only 35 feature films were produced in the technically well-equipped studios. However, the film requirements of the 750 Austrian cinemas were estimated at only 300 to 350 films. Numerous production companies closed at that time, and around 3,000 filmmakers (directly and indirectly dependent on film) became unemployed. At the same time, however, the number of distribution companies rose to around 70, with smaller Austrian distributors as well as film production companies perishing.

On this occasion, the Filmbund called for a demonstration at the beginning of May, which was joined by around 3,000 artists, musicians, performers, workers and employees as well as traders in the film industry. Including greats such as Sascha Kolowrat-Krakowsky , Jacob and Luise Fleck , Walter Reisch , Magda Sonja , Michael Curtiz , Hans Theyer and many others. The demonstration moved from Neubaugasse via Mariahilfer Strasse to Parliament . This made the federal government aware of the threat to the existence of the Austrian film industry, and a film quota law came into force on May 19, which among other things provided import quotas for foreign films. Although the era of mass productions was over, the continued existence of the domestic film industry, albeit in a scaled-down form, was secured. Nevertheless, most of the Austrian filmmakers finally moved to Berlin - the “Hollywood of Europe”. Only Sascha-Film, with Sascha Kolowrat-Krakowsky's family fortune in the background, was still able to produce large-scale productions.

The last few years of silent films

Silent film production
short and long feature films
Years number
1906-1914 130
1914-1918 180-190
1919-1922 522-537
1923-1930 180-190
Total: 1012-1047

In 1926, in addition to 19 feature films, the film magazine Mein Film was published, which from then on was one of the most influential Viennese film magazines until it was closed in 1956.

1925 produced the Sascha film The Toys of Paris with the French actor Lily Damita in the leading role. The film impressed with the abundance of gorgeous evening dresses, the manufacturers of which were not forgotten to mention in the film magazines. Well-known film actors were often given clothes from local fashion houses in an effective way. In 1927 Sascha-Film produced The Pratermizzi . A predetermined success, given the fact that Sascha-Film was the only remaining major producer in Austria. The director was Gustav Ucicky and the leading actress was the "big boozer" , the American Nita Naldi .

The film Café Elektric followed in 1927 , for which Sascha Kolowrat-Krakowsky, who was now seriously ill with cancer, discovered Willi Forst and Marlene Dietrich as the main actors. The director was again the former cameraman Gustav Ucicky, who was able to assert himself with Die Pratermizzi and thus gained Sascha Kolowrat-Krakowsky's trust. Willi Forst credibly played an underworld thug, but only developed his likeable character in the sound films.

In Germany in 1927, the Austrian director Fritz Lang, who worked for Ufa, made a world-class film with the socially critical science fiction classic Metropolis . It was also the most expensive film that Ufa had ever financed, which temporarily put the film company in financial distress. At the time, Vienna had 170 cinemas with 67,000 seats and 308 standing places. Only four Viennese cinemas held more than 1000 people, the majority of the other Viennese cinemas held between 200 and 400 people. The cinema operating company Kiba was founded in Vienna in 1926 . Their primary task was to buy up and operate cinemas in order to strengthen social democratic interests within Vienna.

In 1927, 21 Austrian feature films were released; in 1928 the number rose to 28. In 1929 23 silent films and the first sound film were released, and in 1930 13 silent and 4 sound films. Including the silent film operetta Archduke Johann by director Max Neufeld, with German-national sayings in the subtitles . Another film about the Habsburgs was shown at this time with The Fate of the Habsburgs . In this German production Leni Riefenstahl played the mistress of Crown Prince Rudolf , Mary Vetsera .

In 1928 the 21-year-old Viennese Alfred Zinnemann went to Berlin to work as a camera assistant after completing his camera training in Paris . As early as 1929 he moved to Hollywood , where he soon made a career as a director and producer and won several Academy Awards .

In 1929, Fritz Weiß advocated the social status of tramps in his film Vagabund in a neorealistic manner . The young actors Walter Edhofer , Paula Pflüger and Otto Hartmann also worked in it . Recordings from real life were also used. In this work, Fritz Weiß orientated himself strongly on the Soviet revolutionary film , which he had carefully studied.

Early sound film era

In the sound film era, the “ Viennese film ” could fully develop. These music and comedian films were characterized by Viennese abuse and the weaker use of the Viennese dialect , and not least because of this they enjoyed great popularity in German-speaking countries, as they came up with romantic, but also glorified subjects from Vienna during the imperial era. The films continued to do this even when the economic crisis, mass unemployment and, most recently, Austrofascism dominated everyday life in Austria. In addition, the unique characters and comedians of the Viennese cabaret and theater were able to come into their own for the first time in the sound film - the pun and the language of expression have always played a greater role than the facial expressions and gestures.

Some of the stars of Viennese film were Paula Wessely , Attila Hörbiger , Rudolf Carl , Fritz Imhoff , Leo Slezak , Magda Schneider and Willi Forst , who was important both as an actor and as a director. The best-known representatives of the comedian film were the opposing Hans Moser and Szöke Sakall . While Hans Moser often played his fellow actors against the wall through his linguistically and mimic unique, natural appearance, Szöke Sakall shone with an intellectually biting to sadistic-aggressive humor. With Richard Romanowsky , a graduate of the Max Reinhardt Seminar, another comedian was found among the great actors in early talkies.

The music and comedian film, which prevailed against all other genres, was also criticized from various sides. Friedrich Schreyvogel , for example, called for “poets on the film front”, as this would bring more personality and inspiration into filmmaking. In the 1930s, all films were made in the various studios of Tobis-Sascha or the Selenophon light and sound image company. The largest clients and film distributors, apart from the in-house Sascha-Filmverleih, who sold the in-house productions, were Hugo Engel, Robert Müller, Allianz, Lux, Kiba, Lyra-Film, Mondial and Universal.

The 1930s

The first sound films

Sound film production of
full-length feature films
year number
1929 1
1930 4th
1931 9
1932 11
1934 18th
1935 27

Until 1930 mainly silent films were made, as both cinemas and film producers had not yet switched to sound film machines. The first short sound films of foreign production reached Austria on June 8, 1928, where they were shown with great success in the Vienna Urania . These films were shown using the Tri-Ergon method developed by the inventors Massolle, Vogt and Engel using a German optical sound system.

The first full-length sound film reached Austria on January 21, 1929 - in Vienna's Central Cinema on Taborstrasse. It was Alan Crosland's " The Jazz Singer " , which premiered in the USA on October 23, 1927, and was called "The Jazz Singer" in Austria . The sound was played on a record in sync with the film.

The first attempts at sound film production in Austria were carried out in the summer of 1929 using the “Selenophon” optical sound system. The premiere of the first Austrian sound film - " Stories from Styria " - took place on August 23, 1929 in Graz. However, the Ottoton system by director Hans Otto Löwenstein was used . A large part of the first Austrian short sound films of this year was limited to the onset of clumsy noise and music effects. This was followed by cabaret sketches such as “In der Theateragentur” from 1930. In that year, sound film production rose to 4, in 1931 to 9, in 1932 to 11 and to 18 in 1934. The poor financial resources after the great crisis in the middle of Film production companies remaining in the 1920s favored numerous co-productions with Hungary , Czechoslovakia , Great Britain , France and Germany .

By 1933, using the Selenophon process, several feature films were released, such as “Mikrophon auf Reisen” from the RAVAG film by Radio-Verkehrs-AG - the predecessor of today's ORF . Among other things, the monumental film The Slave Queen from 1924 was dubbed. Under the pressure of the Nazi dictatorship, the Selenophon process in favor of the Tobis sound film finally came to an end.

In the well-off domestic film distribution business, on the other hand, the companies specialized in the application of subtitles in imported foreign language productions - mainly from the USA. In 1930 Attila Hörbiger got his first film role in " The Immortal Scoundrel " at the side of his two years older brother Paul . At the same time, Samuel Wilder , who first worked as a journalist in Vienna and later moved to Berlin as a screenwriter, was writing his first screenplay with " Menschen am Sonntag " . In 1931 the screenplay for the first filming of " Emil and the Detectives " followed , which he wrote together with Erich Kästner . This film, directed by Gerhard Lamprecht , was one of the first real children's feature films with sound.

In 1931 the film " Mountains in Flames " appeared with the South Tyrolean Luis Trenker in the leading role . A film by the Austrian director Karl Hartl , who works for Ufa in Germany and who also became production manager at Wien-Film in 1938 . As the main actor in the German production " M " , the Austrian Peter Lorre, who comes from today's Slovakia, also achieved the breakthrough. In 1931 the comedian Karl Farkas got his first film roles in "Justizmaschine" and "Unter den Dächern von Wien" , which was based on the French production "Unter den Dächern von Paris" .

The Sascha-Film-Fabrik in Vienna, which had already degenerated into a copier and inking company in the 1920s as part of the then Kolowrat film empire , fell into a serious crisis in the course of the conversion of film production from silent to sound film, which led to a leveling out in 1930 . After the completion of the first full-length sound film, Sascha-Film 1930 ( “Money on the Road” ), the company was to be liquidated. But a new consortium agreed to continue running the company. In 1932 the company was taken over by the Pilzer brothers, and a little later, after the German Tobis Tonbild-Syndikat AG joined the company , the production company was renamed "Tobis-Sascha-Filmindustrie AG". Otto Preminger's first film was released in 1931 : The Great Love with Hansi Niese , Attila Hörbiger and Betty Bird in the leading roles.

The high unemployment rate of the 1930s also influenced filmmaking. In 1932, both Max Neufeld's “Sehnsucht 202” and “Scampolo” by Hans Steinhoff focused on the unemployed. In "Scampolo" worked Dolly Haas and Paul Hörbiger as a leading actor. Billy Wilder wrote the script. It was the only script that Billy Wilder wrote for an Austrian film, along with Madame wishes no children from 1933.

With " The Witcher " (1932) based on Edgar Wallace with Paul Richter as inspector and " Invisible Opponents " (1933) with the actors Raoul Aslan , Paul Hartmann , Oskar Homolka and Peter Lorre, two successful crime and spy film productions of the early talkies are also in Called Austria. Both films were directed by Rudolf Katscher , who later made a career in Great Britain as R. Cartier . Of the actors, Peter Lorre and Oskar Homolka emigrated to the United States a little later.

The political parties also knew how to use the possibilities of the sound film. The Social Democratic Party had two films made: “Mr. Pim's Notebook” , in the course of which a conservative American was convinced of “ Red Vienna ” and “Die vom 17er Haus” by Artur Berger , a socially utopian film that was made for the state elections 1932 was produced. This was also the last film by the SPÖ before it was banned in the corporate state . The film ends with the appeal “Be clever! Red Vienna wins! Vote social democratic! ” . In 1933 the “Institute for Sound Film Art ” was founded in the Farmer's Market - where the Viennese art film company once had studios - in Vienna's 1st district . From then on, greats of Austrian film such as Artur Berger, Karl Farkas , Heinz Hanus , Franz Herterich , Fritz Klingenbeck , Hans Theyer and others acted as teachers . Of the 833 cinemas that existed in Austria in 1934, 177 were in Vienna.

Origin of the music film

From the beginning of the 1930s, after the first attempts at using the new possibilities of the sound film, real singing and music films were made with well-known singers of that time. In 1933, for example, Abenteuer am Lido by director Richard Oswald appeared with the singers Alfred Piccaver , Nora Gregor and the comedian Szöke Sakall in the leading roles. The Austrian music film , as it was continued in numerous musical comedies after the Second World War , was born in these years. Although this sealed the fate of the cinema musicians, the film composer was a new profession. Of these, the German Willy Schmidt-Gentner was a sought-after representative, for whom Vienna became a second home. Some successful Austrian composers who also made careers in Hollywood were Hans J. Salter , Anton Profes and Robert Katscher .

However, operetta films related to music film were still made for a while, such as "Frasquita" under the direction of Franz Lehár , "Im Weisse Rössl" , "Ball im Savoy" and "Spring Donation" . It featured opera stars like Piccaver, Jeritza and Jarmila Novotná , great actors like Franziska Gaal , Christl Mardayn , Hans Jaray and Hermann Thimig , as well as great comedians like Hans Moser , Heinz Rühmann and Rudolf Carl . In “Today is the most beautiful day in my life” sang Joseph Schmidt , who had become undesirable in Germany, under the direction of Richard Oswald, who moved to Hollywood a little later. The popular operetta composer Paul Abraham was responsible for the music in the films " Das Tagebuch der Geliebten " , "Ball in the Savoy" and "The Abducted Bride" directed by Henry Koster .

The wine-blissful and singing-happy tradition of “ Old Viennese ” suburban clubs continued in the sound film. There were productions with titles such as “Das Lercherl vom Wienerwald” (1931), “Wiener Zauberklänge” (1931), “Lang ist her” and “Das Glück von Grinzing”, some of which speak for themselves .

In 1933 the Viennese director Wilhelm Thiele , who had become known in 1930 with “Die Drei von der Gasstelle” , returned from Berlin. For Grand Duchess Alexandra ” he was able to win over the operetta star Maria Jeritza for her only film role. Opera singer Leo Slezak , who is just beginning his second career as a comedian and character actor, played the male supporting part. In the same year a co-production with France appeared with König Pausole - with Emil Jannings in the leading role - and a co-production with Hungary: “Rakoczimarsch” . Karl Ehmann acted as "Our Kaiser" alongside Hansi Niese as the wife of a chief forester. Directed by Jakob and Luise Fleck .

In 1933 “Leise flehen meine Lieder” was published by Willi Forst , who had now switched to directing . This film adaptation of a work by Franz Schubert was the starting signal for a continuation of the successful Schubert films from previous years. Shortly before the film premiered in Berlin, Adolf Hitler had come to power and imposed a thousand-mark ban on Austria . The English version appeared in 1934 under the name " The Unfinished Symphony " . Since synchronization was not technically possible at the time, this film was played with a slightly different cast. The first possibility of synchronization ( dubbing ) was first introduced in Vienna by the Selenophon in 1937.

In 1933 and 1934 other successful music film productions appeared with “Opernring” with singer Jan Kiepura , “Carnival of Love” with Hans Moser and Hermann Thimig and Burgtheater by Willi Forst. In “Zauber der Bohème” from 1937 Jan Kiepura played at the side of his wife Marta Eggerth , who also demonstrated her acting skills in 1933 in “Leise flehen Meine Lieder” and in 1938 in “Immer, Wenn ich bin Glück” . In “ Premiere ”, the Swede Zarah Leander, who sings successfully at the Theater an der Wien, starred in a film for the first time. In 1934 the director Henry Koster , then still known as Hermann Kosterlitz, shot the two films " Peter " and " Katharina, die last " with the Hungarian actress Franziska Gaal .

In the Austrian corporate state

The politically unstable situation in the young Republic of Austria led to a putsch by Engelbert Dollfuss in 1933 and culminated in the Austrian Civil War in 1934 , in which Dollfuss was able to consolidate his position. Under his authoritarian leadership, freedom of expression was severely restricted and censorship was introduced in many areas. This time is also characterized by the increasing influence and pressure exerted by the National Socialists on the Austrian state and its institutions - including cultural ones.

As a reaction to the political situation, the proportion of films made in the Prater increased further in the 1930s . Because the societal fractures, which officially do not exist in the corporate state , could still be addressed in the Prater, which young and old from all social classes visited. This is how the film “Prater” was made here in 1936 , which, in contrast to the majority of local and music film productions, did not come up with elaborate costumes or alpine costume, but was equipped with simple everyday clothes from contemporary Austria.

In 1933 the Viennese actress Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler caused a scandal with a ten-minute nude scene and a love scene in the film " Ecstasy " . The Viennese armaments industrialist Fritz Mandl , whom she married that same year, forbade her to act, whereupon she emigrated to the United States in 1937 and made a career at MGM as Hedy Lamarr .

At the end of 1933, the Rosenhügel studios were acquired by what is now Tobis-Sascha-Film and newly adapted. Her penultimate film was made there in 1934 with “ Masquerade ”, which was to become the figurehead of “Viennese Film”. In “Masquerade”, the successful theater actress and later grande dame of German acting Paula Wessely got her first role at the side of Adolf Wohlbrück , Hans Moser and Olga Chekhova and achieved international fame. The film received an award for best screenplay at the Venice Film Festival. In 1935, the subject was re-filmed in the USA under the title "Escapade" with Luise Rainer . After Hohe Schule (1934) the studios were only rented out and Tobis-Sascha concentrated on the distribution of films.

The film pioneers Jakob and Luise Fleck had also returned to Vienna from Berlin in 1933 . Here in 1935 they staged “Czárdás” (also “Csardas” ) together with a Czech production company . In 1937 the two re-staged “Der Pfarrer von Kirchfeld” with Hans Jaray in the leading role. The film, which can be classified as Austria propaganda, was criticized by the church, however, because the forbidden love of a pastor for a woman was discussed.

Of the 300 films that screened in 1934, most were of American origin, followed by German productions. Only 27 films were produced in Austria by the 13 production companies based in Vienna. Including the two advertising films for Austria “Stories from the Vienna Woods” , based on a template by Maria Stephan with the popular actors and actresses Magda Schneider and Wolf Albach-Retty , and Singing Youth with the Vienna Boys' Choir in the mountains of Tyrol his newly built Grossglockner High Alpine Road .

These films, which were specifically made abroad to achieve a positive image of Austria, also include “Carneval in Vienna” (1935), “How a Frenchman sees Vienna” (1937) and “Wiener Mode” (1937). "Eva" (1935), "Sylvia and her Chauffeur" (1935), "Rendezvous in Vienna" (1936) and "Silhouettes" (1936) should also serve to portray Vienna as the "City of Love" . Together with the Heimatfilms produced in the Alps, they were intended to attract tourists and entrepreneurs from English and French-speaking countries during the economically difficult and politically unstable times, as the vital flow of tourists from Germany was hindered.

Paula Wessely was in “Harvest” in 1936 , in which the “importance” of the Catholic Church is emphasized, for the first time together with her future husband and multiple film partner Attila Hörbiger in front of the camera. Several other films were made, some with Paula Wessely in one of the leading roles, which flattered the Catholic Church and the Catholic federal government of the Austrian corporate state.

Anticipated "connection" of Austrian film

With the beginning of the Nazi regime in Germany, a new situation arose for the Austrian film industry, which was heavily dependent on Germany in terms of talkies, to which they had to adapt in order not to be forced out of business.

This development was actively supported and strengthened by constant pressure from the German side. Not least because many German filmmakers emigrated to Austria in 1933, thus circumventing Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels' prohibition on the participation of Jews in the German film industry. For example Henry Koster , who did comedies in Vienna a. a. with Franziska Gáal , shot, or Paul Czinner , Elisabeth Bergner , Kurt Gerron and the regime critics Werner Hochbaum and Erich Engel .

Pressure was given above all in terms of personnel policy and finance, since Germany was the most important export country. The quota of bilateral film trade - which is less favorable for Austria - had to be renegotiated every year. And since taking over the Sascha film through the holding of Nazi Cautio fiduciary located Tobis had in 1934. Germany, another pressure medium to impede the free movement of filmmaking in Austria in his hand.

Since the continued filmmaking of Germans who emigrated to Austria made the decisions of the Reich Filmkammer ineffective, the response was threatened with an import ban on Austrian productions if Jews should continue to participate in Austrian films. This threat could only be averted by concessions from Oskar Pilzer , in the role of President of the Vienna Film Producers Association. But in 1936 the National Socialists were able to enforce the import ban on Austrian films to Germany. In Berlin, on April 20, an agreement was reached between the Reich Chamber of Film Culture and the Federation of Austrian Film Industries . The writer Joseph Roth , who emigrated to Paris, described this in the New Paris Diary as nothing more than the "perfect 'connection' of Austrian film production to German". It was the implementation of the new version of the German Reichslichtspielgesetz for Austria, which was tightened in 1934. From now on, Jewish employees were de facto banned in the Austrian film industry.

Although the Austrian film industry had bowed to the German demands, the National Socialists issued in the same year that proceeds generated in Germany could no longer be returned to Austria. As a result, Austrian film companies had money in Germany, but were close to bankruptcy in Austria. This resulted in a standstill in Austrian film production. The Tobis-Sascha was hard hit by these measures. In 1937 the entire company was transferred to Tobis AG via Creditanstalt . In 1938 it was dissolved and re-established as Wien-Film GmbH .

Now not only Jewish filmmakers who had not yet left Austria in 1937 demanded an independent Austrian film, but also Austrian national circles. The late recognition, however, found less and less attention in the politically influential bodies. German propaganda productions, "which portray the Third Reich as paradise" , were spreading more and more in Austria without Austria being able to counter this. On the contrary, Austrian productions were increasingly shaped by the same ideological style.

Criticism of the emerging totalitarianism

In the 1930s, only a few directors dared to tackle topics that were critical of society or the regime. These few included Werner Hochbaum and Erich Engel, who had fled Nazi Germany . While neither of them achieved much notoriety with their films, they were once more, and once less explicit, statements against the false political authority and militarism that was being seen in theaters. Werner Hochbaum's most important contribution was Vorstadtvarieté (1935), based on a long-forbidden template by Felix Salten . The film, which came up with an unexpected reference to reality, was partially censored in the Austrian corporate state. The tragic final scene, in which the character played by Luise Ullrich is run over by the train, is replaced by a re-shot, illogical plot with a happy ending at the intervention of the cinema owner.

Another critical director of those years was Erich Engel , who in 1935 staged … only a comedian with Rudolf Forster in a double role and Christl Mardayn, Hilde von Stolz and Paul Wegener in other roles. Despite its anti-authoritarian action, the anti-fascism film escaped both Austrian and German censorship, presumably due to the fact that the film was set in the Rococo period . In the film, for example, there is a sequence in which the Minister of State requests the captain to shoot the 70 dissatisfied and rebellious subjects. In this scene depicting the conflict between dictatorship and humanity, the following dialogue takes place after the Minister of State asked the captain to shoot into the crowd:

Captain: I can't!
Minister of State: What do you mean? Captain, you heard my order!
Captain: I'm not a murderer, I'm an officer!
Minister of State: You were an officer!

During National Socialism (1938–1945)

After the connection of Austria to Germany , the film industry suffered due to massive curtailment of freedom of expression and the introduction of a strict censorship another setback. The expulsion and killing of Jewish, foreign and regime-critical citizens began, and only supporters or willingness to adapt remained.

Filmmaking in Austria at the time of National Socialism was characterized by the production of so-called cultural and homeland films. These reported from nature and rural life. Sixty such films were made between 1939 and 1944, when the last such production was made. This contrasted with the production of around 50 feature films. These were seemingly ordinary comedies or period films from old Vienna and its musical world. However, these conveyed, partly subliminally, partly obviously, National Socialist ideas with them. These films not only strengthened anti-Semitic prejudices, but also mocked democracy, other peoples, and often also the Habsburg monarchy , for which there were numerous opportunities in the many films that played in the last years of the Danube monarchy.

As a result of the productions of Tobis-Sascha-Film, which is now appearing as Vienna-Film , Vienna became a main location for film production alongside Berlin and Munich . However, only a few classic propaganda films were made in Vienna, as the motto given in Berlin for the film production was Strength through Joy . In addition to Wien-Film, there were only a few, small production companies, all of which, however, were closely linked by contract with Wien-Film. Free, independent filmmaking no longer existed. The import ban on foreign films also meant that the entire film system in the German Reich, as efficient and clearly structured as it was, was highly profitable.

The production of films, directed by the Reich Propaganda Ministry, was essentially limited to the production of comedies and homeland films with "Ostmark" reference. The look back into the operetta world offered a welcome opportunity for the directors not to have to make clumsy propaganda films, which, however, did not rule out anti-Semitism and other political messages in the films. The entertaining productions were also suitable for export.

A Vienna film specialty to escape from the present was also the processing of the fates of Viennese musicians and poets. As a continuation of the Viennese film of the 1930s, Willi Forst and colleagues staged comedies and music films from 300 years of Viennese cultural history.

Film industry and the first consequences of the "Anschluss"

Shortly after the invasion, on March 12, 1938, the UFA-Tonwoche replaced all previous Austrian newsreels and on March 15 reported in full about Adolf Hitler's "triumphant march" to Vienna and the enthusiastic masses that are now better times after the Years of mass unemployment hoped for at the troop parades.

A referendum was held on April 10 to approve the annexation of Austria to Germany that had already been completed . In the run-up, an all-encompassing advertising campaign was carried out, for which purpose film stars like Paul Hörbiger were called in, who advertised a “yes” out of “personal conviction”. Film magazines such as the popular “Mein Film” magazine justified the affiliation on the grounds that Austrian films were German, and have always been German. The first prisoner transport to Dachau also included the fighter for the valuable film, Dr. Viktor Matejka . The cultural historian, critic and actor Egon Friedell , however, committed in 1938 on 16 March suicide .

On October 30, 1939, the ordinance on safety films was issued, as the films until then still consisted of the easily inflammable nitrate film material . From April 1, 1940, film copies could only be made on security film. Due to the war, however, this could not be implemented, which is why the productions of Wien-Film were only preserved on the easily decomposable nitrate film, and it was only up to the year 2000 that the Filmarchiv Austria could largely copy them onto security film .

The racial ideologies of the National Socialists had far-reaching effects on the Austrian cinema and film distribution system. Even before the Nazis came to power in Germany in 1933, around 90% of film distributors and 50% of Viennese cinema owners were Jewish. All Jewish cinemas that are not already in front of the terminal were driven Austria to Germany were a matter of days " arisiert ".

At the beginning of 1942, extensive internal restructuring was carried out in the UFA. The central distribution of the films was in Berlin, and the other areas, such as the cinemas, were completely concentrated on Berlin economically and organizationally. The shortage of personnel and materials also required extreme economy, which the public was not allowed to find out about. Films could not be longer than 2500 meters and cost no more than one million Reichsmarks. The previously enormously high fees for filmmakers have also been reduced. In February 1943, filmmakers received a warning not to spread false reports about the state of the war. Prison and death sentences were threatened. A month later, an ordinance was passed that only pay minimum salaries.

Feature films

Before the restructuring of the Austrian film industry was completed, the recognized director E. W. Emo was allowed to produce two films himself . The Emo film brought the fall of 1938, the two comedies "The Optimist" with Victor de Kowa and " Thirteen Chairs " with the comic duo Heinz Rühmann and Hans Moser out. E. W. Emo directed the first Vienna film production, which appeared in March 1939: “Immortal Waltz” was created in the Rosenhügel studios and acted in the best Viennese music film tradition by Johann Strauss .

The production “Hotel Sacher” directed by Erich Engel, filmed by “Mondial Film” in the Rosenhügel studios in 1938/1939 and directed by Erich Engel , was released before the first Vienna film was shown . The content was a love story as well as an espionage affair in 1913 and 1914. Hedwig Bleibtreu played “Frau Sacher” and, as rare guests in Vienna, Sybille Schmitz and Willy Birgel also played in this by no means apolitical film - after all, he is dealing with the past with the Nazis Accent - with.

In 1939 Marte Harell from Vienna also got into film through her husband, the Vienna Film Director, Karl Hartl . She begins her career with a leading role - in the film adaptation of the Opera Ball from 1939. The actress , who always speaks the Viennese dialect , delivers her star role in the 1944 Viennese love film " Schrammeln " . Gustav Ucicky's first film at Wien-Film was called Mutterliebe and appeared in cinemas in 1939. The main actress was Käthe Dorsch , who was to create a monument to the ideal of the “German mother”.

In 1940 Ernst Marischka wrote the screenplay for "Viennese Stories" . The film was directed by Géza von Bolváry . The lyrics to the two well-known songs from this film, “Yes, that's just Viennese stories” and “The Viennese need his regular pub” were written by Ernst Marischka. In the former there is also a stanza that shows a rare and hidden criticism of the National Socialists: “The Munich resident drinks a liter of beer when he has Zurn, the Berliner screams loudly, you can almost hear it from here! The Viennese go to his café in a bad mood, and when you first get brown you laugh. "

In 1941, a circular was issued to filmmakers at Wien-Film regarding representations in films:

Was prohibited:

  • people who smoke
  • Caricature of a teacher
  • Habsburgs
  • Kuk uniforms
  • childless marriages
  • Berlin from the negative side
  • People speaking Berlin dialect
  • Film in film
  • illegitimate children
  • Disasters

What was undesirable:

  • Accumulation of coincidences
  • Espionage by members of the armed forces
  • Names like Lehmann, Schulze, Müller, Meier, Krause, Anna, Emma, ​​Berta, Marlies, August, Emil, Gustav

What was desired, however:

  • positive portrayal of a teacher
  • large families
  • good-sounding, beautiful names

Only occasionally succeeded in creating further masterpieces, such as Willi Forst , whose Wiener Blut from 1942 struck astonishingly anti-German tones that could not only be read retrospectively as a commentary on the political situation. It was one of only four films he made for Wien-Film, and it was also the most successful, and it was also widely visited abroad. Operetta from 1940 was also very successful and exactly met the audience's taste. Paul Hörbiger played Alexander Girardi after he had already played Johann Strauss' father in “Immortal Waltz” . In “Brüderlein fein” (1942) and “Der liebe Augustin” (1941) he portrayed Franz Grillparzer .

The most important cameraman of those years was responsible for the camera at “Operetta” : Hans Schneeberger . In 1942, Vienna Film Production Manager Karl Hartl also made his only film for Vienna Film: “Who the Gods Love” - a film adaptation of Mozart's life. The busiest screenwriter at Wien-Film was Gerhard Menzel . He wrote the scripts for " Mutterliebe " (1939), " Der Postmeister " (1940), Schicksal (1942), " Späte Liebe " (1943), "Das Herz muss sein" (1944), " At the end of the world " ( 1947) and others. With the thematization of willingness to make sacrifices, blind obedience and loyalty in various milieus, these films all showed a strong party-political orientation. Menzel invented the most unlikely situations and coincidences simply to show "exemplary" people in the sense of the National Socialists. With the exception of “Der Postmeister” , these films with their often unrealistic storylines could only convince through the performance of their actors Heinrich George , Hilde Krahl , Hans Holt , Siegfried Breuer , Käthe Dorsch , Paula Wessely , Attila Hörbiger , Ferdinand Marian and Rudolf Forster .

The film "The Postmaster" , based on a novella by the Russian writer Alexander Sergejewitsch Pushkin , was also an extraordinary production because the Soviet Union was suddenly presented positively and Russians were for once not presented as "hated Bolsheviks " but as ordinary people. This special case was just as politically motivated as all the other productions of the National Socialists. Because in 1940 the German-Soviet non-aggression pact still existed . When the German Reich nevertheless undertook the attack on the Soviet Union , the showing of the film was immediately banned.

Hans Moser, the most popular comedian of the time, was featured in numerous films. His Jewish wife Blanka survived National Socialism and was deported to Budapest , where she was allowed to visit Hans Moser occasionally. In “Seven Years of Bad luck” (1940) by Styria-Film , directed by Ernst Marischka , Hans Moser sang the famous song “I must have been phylloxera in my previous life”. The film was so successful that in 1942 a sequel, "Seven Years of Happiness" , was made. The best Moser film of these years, however, was My daughter lives in Vienna , directed by EW Emo, who came up with a comic scene like the Commedia dell'arte . He played here for the first time together with the also very popular Paul Hörbiger.

Culture and homeland films

In Austria, too, there were some cultural film cinemas which, apart from newsreels, only showed cultural films . Some of these were also colored and showed recordings under names such as “Evening at the Lake” or “Blossoms and Fruits” - two films by Otto Trippel , who was commissioned by Wien-Film. Other contractual partners of Wien-Film were Herbert Dreyer , Adi Mayer , and Max Zehenthofer for Kulturfilmen . Ernst Holub , Ulrich Kayser , Constantin von Landau , Peter Steigerwald and Karl von Ziegelmayer were active as authors and game leaders .

The film was shot in the entire "Ostmark" as well as in the Carpathian Mountains and the Danube Delta in cooperation with the Romanian Propaganda Ministry . In 1942, for example, “Encounter with Pelicans” was created together with the Romanian film company ONC . “Karpatenmelodie” (1943) and “Dragus, a Romanian Carpathian village” (1943) were also created in Romania . Cooperations were also planned with Bulgaria and Greece. In 1939 and 1940, the later head of the film department in the Propaganda Ministry, Dr. Fritz Hippler , the two documentaries " Campaign in Poland " and " The Eternal Jew " .

In 1944 he made films about Heimat (Heimat am Steilhang) , “A day in the Wachau” and “Peter Rosegger's Waldheimat” . "Hof ohne Mann" (1942), "Der Landtierarzt" (1943) and "The Last Dugout Tree" (1944) told stories from rural life . Mountain films were, for example, “Der Bergbach” (1943), “Bergnot” (1943) and “Salt of the Mountains” (1944). Psychology was also part of the cultural film theme. In 1943, “The big world of children's eyes” was created in this regard .

At least in Vienna, most of the cultural film cinemas were sold out every day from morning to night, which was not the rule for feature films. There was a special section on cultural film at the Reichsfilmintendanz . In 1944, the last cultural films were completed at Wien-Film. Since 1939 there had been around 60.

Propaganda films

The last years of the Danube Monarchy were generally a popular period when the films were set during the Nazi era. The "incompetence of the monarchy" was widely ridiculed in every respect - be it the incompetent officialdom or the "doomed to failure" multinationalism.

The only four massive propaganda films, the Wien-Film, played at this time. 1939 appeared with " linen from Ireland ," a film that strong similarities to the rotated in Berlin propaganda film " Jud Suess " was obtained. Only the time - the film took place in 1909 - and the milieu were different. Directed by Heinz Helbig . The original script for a comedy by Stefan von Kamare was rewritten by Harald Bratt into an anti-Semitic propaganda script. The film was premiered in Berlin with the title “politically and artistically valuable”. The production cost 744,000 Reichsmarks , which were brought in twice within two years.

In 1941, Hans Moser played a customs officer in Liebe ist Zollfrei ” ( Love is Customs Free), who managed it all by himself and unintentionally to shake the First Republic . The “non-functioning” First Republic and its “helpless chancellor”, played by Oskar Sima , should be dealt with with mockery and scorn . Besides that, people also made fun of the English language , the Schwyzerdütsch , and democratic systems themselves. However, some film researchers, such as the then Vienna Film Production Manager Karl Hartl retrospectively, do not count this film among the propaganda films, but among the usual comedies of Vienna films during the Nazi era.

Also in 1941, Heimkehr was filmed in East Prussia with elaborate set-ups and exterior shots, directed by Gustav Ucicky . The film takes place before the attack on Poland by the Wehrmacht . The attack on Poland, which started the Second World War, is presented in this film as a relief operation and justified as a struggle for fate. The main roles played well-known actors with strong characters such as Paula Wessely , Attila Hörbiger , Peter Petersen , Carl Raddatz , Ruth Hellberg , Elsa Wagner , Otto Wernicke , Gerhild Weber and Eduard Köck . In keeping with official politics, the audience should be given the impression that the destruction of “sub-humanity” in the East would be a downright moral duty to the world. For this reason, the film was released in theaters after the German troops attacked the Soviet Union. The film cost 3.7 million Reichsmarks and was thus the most expensive production of the Wien-Film. However, at 4.9 million he made a significant surplus.

The last known propaganda film from Wien-Film was called "Wien 1910" and was made in 1943. It was about the popular and anti-Semitic former mayor of Vienna, Karl Lueger , whom Hitler had already described with admiring words in his book " Mein Kampf ". Lueger was played by Rudolf Forster , who had specially returned from the USA. The film presented a distorted perspective on what was then Vienna and its political actors. For the year 1943, however, the film was too popular for the decision-makers in Berlin and the role of Georg von Schönerer was drawn too pale. Therefore, the film, which had cost almost 2.5 million Reichsmarks, was banned for the "Ostmark".

Filmmaking towards the end of the war

Towards the end of the war, after the declaration of “ total war ”, the paternalism of the population by the film intensified. The films were more than ever adapted to current needs. In 1944, for example, the film “Das Herz muss Schweigen” (The Heart Must Be Silent) was released on X-ray research, which focused on the achievements and importance of doctors.

On October 5, 1943, The White Dream ” was premiered in the Vienna film theater “Scala” . This was one of the first "Eisrevue" films and at the same time one of the most famous productions of the Vienna Film. By the end of 1944, the film about the main actors and award-winning ice skaters Karl Schäfer and Olly Holzmann had around 25 million visitors. With “Travel Acquaintance” , The Holiday Child and the Styria film “Adventure in the Grand Hotel” , further Hans Moser films were also released in 1943. EW Emo had been working in the Barrandow studios in Prague since 1943 on “Friends” - a film whose production was dragging on due to ongoing censorship measures. The film was therefore only released in cinemas in Vienna after the end of the war, in August 1945.

In March 1944, based on a script by Ernst Marischka and Hans Gustl Kernmayer, the story of the musical Viennese brothers Johann and Josef Schrammel premiered. Directed by Géza von Bolváry, the " Schrammeln " were played by Paul Hörbiger and Hans Holt. In this film, rare, hidden, swipes were once again incorporated. For example, when the “Fiakermilli” asked Josef Schrammel: “Why are they so brown, I mean so burned, your garden is really shady?”

In 1944 Wien-Film produced one of the few films set in a peasant environment: “Uli and Marei” . The film took place in Tyrol, which is why some ensemble members from the well-known Innsbruck Exl-stage took part again. Directed by Leopold Hainisch , who also starred in the film.

Until 1944, the actors' dialect language was omnipresent in Viennese films. Only then were the German critics noticed, for example about Hans Moser's Viennese language : “This is how you can let Hans Moser speak on the stage in Vienna. But a film should be shown and understood everywhere, in Flensburg as in Königsberg, in Düsseldorf as in Berlin. ” Wien-Film had to react, and so on May 24, 1944, the directors Willi Forst, Gustav Ucicky, Hans Thimig , Leopold Hainisch and Géza von Cziffra the following circular: “I am advised by our superior authorities to take special care that the Viennese dialect or the dialect of the Danube and Alpenreichsgaue are coordinated in our films so that our films match the German Audiences of all tribes remain understandable. "

In 1944 Géza von Cziffra directed the comedy " Hundstage " with the couple Olly Holzmann and Wolf Albach-Retty . In August 1944, the new Reich Film Director Hans Hinkel , who had been new since March of that year, reported to Joseph Goebbels that he wanted to free 5,300 of the 10,200 members of the feature film production for the armed forces and armaments. For example, sewing rooms were set up in the up-and-coming studio at the farmers' market. Film production was severely affected. Vienna film director Franz Hirt tried to defend himself against these measures, but was unsuccessful. As of January 31, 1945, 414 of the 1,453 employees of Wien-Film had either enlisted or were drafted into the Volkssturm .

In February 1945 Paul Hörbiger was interrogated by the Gestapo for alleged connections to a resistance group in Vienna , and the payment of his salary (6000 Reichsmarks per month) was suspended. However, Wien-Film did not dare to actually resist. There were swipes at the Nazi regime in several film productions and tentative attempts to defy the orders from Berlin.

Post war era

In occupied post-war Austria (1945–1955)

Economic and political environment

Film production of
full-length (sound) feature films
year number
1946 2
1947 13
1948 25th
1949 25th
1950 17th
1951 28
1952 19th
1953 28
1954 22nd
1955 28

After the Second World War and liberation from National Socialism, Austria was occupied by the Allies . The film industry got off to a very slow start due to the consequences of war such as destruction, poverty and hunger. There was a lack of staff, coal for heating and raw film material. The power supply regularly came to a standstill and the food was rationed. Many studios, cinemas, other buildings and streets were destroyed.

A lack of orientation and helplessness in the search for a successful Austrian film dramaturgy marked these years, in which successful productions of the 1930s were often imitated. However, films were also made that dealt with the past years, which were shaped by war and anti-Semitism. However, these often did not meet the taste of the general public. Even director Willi Forst speaks at the end of 1947 of a “fiasco of Viennese film”. The productions are not even average. During these years, eight films were released that were made or started during National Socialism - so-called " defectors ".

The largest film company on Austrian soil, Wien-Film , was confiscated by the Allies as “German property”. Their film studios in Sievering and Schönbrunn as well as the company headquarters fell to the Americans, and the company was continued under the same name. The Rosenhügel film studios were located in the Soviet zone of occupation and were operated as part of the USIA as "Wien-Film am Rosenhügel".

In the 1950s, Austria was a popular filming location for German productions, which were able to fall back on favorable conditions here. At the same time, Austrian filmmakers had the opportunity to become known beyond national borders. Numerous film directors and especially actors emigrated to the Federal Republic.

The newly founded and re-established film companies include Sascha-Film , Belvedere-Film and Neue Wiener Filmproduktionsgesellschaft in Vienna , Österreichische Filmgesellschaft mbH (ÖFA) was established in Salzburg in 1947 , Alpin-Film-Austria in Graz in 1949 and in Wels in 1953 the Bergland film . The only film company founded during the occupation years that still produces feature films today is Epo-Film, founded in 1954 . The rest of those listed went bankrupt in the 1960s and 1970s.

Not least because of the lack of high points in film production in the first post-war years, sales and distribution abroad were also difficult. Only exports to Switzerland went smoothly. In 1946 it was almost impossible to export films to Germany. The situation improved again around 1947. In 1948, however, West Germany negotiated an import quota with Austria, which provided a ratio of 1: 4 in favor of West Germany. This quota had to be renegotiated every year.

As became increasingly noticeable in the 1930s, Austria was heavily dependent on the German market. The Austrian producers therefore often made their films according to the wishes of the German distributors. Although this mode of production was successful and profitable, hardly anything new was tried.

From October 26th, the popular film magazine “Mein Film” appeared again - but only to a limited extent, as there was a shortage of paper as well as many other goods. From 1949 "Filmkunst - Zeitschrift für Filmkultur und Filmwissenschaft" appeared. This film magazine, which was discontinued in 1997, was the longest-running German-language film magazine.

Film production resumed

Until 1955, a license from the responsible occupying power was required for film production in Austria. The first to receive one was Marte Harell , who in 1946 produced Faith in Me , a mixture of homeland film and comedy, with director Géza von Cziffra and Kurt Nachmann as screenwriter. It was the first Austrian film to be shown in Germany after the Second World War.

The “resurrection” of Austria, to which the title “ Glaube an mich” alludes, was a more or less ostensible theme in some productions of these years. The “constant” of the Austrian sound film, Hans Moser, who was one of the most popular and frequently used actors both before, during and after National Socialism , travels through the eras of Austrian history in order to find out at the end : “The good time is always ahead of you, and we are solely responsible for the fact whether it will be really good.” This was the first Hans Moser film after 1945, directed by J. A. Hübler-Kahla .

In the post-war period, more cinematic biographies emerged than ever before. In his only love (1947) was Franz Schubert's life with Franz Böheim filmed in the lead role in The comedian from Vienna sat (1954) Karl Paryla Alexander Girardi a monument. In Singing Angels (1947) by director Gustav Ucicky that looked Vienna Boys' Choir and Gustav Waldau as Joseph Haydn with. The reactions of the critics to a renewed edition of such musician films were consistently that this was “not the right way for Viennese films”.

A little later, however, one of the greatest cinematic successes of the Austrian post-war period appeared: Der Hofrat Geiger (1947) produced by Willi Forst and Paul Hörbiger and starring Waltraut Haas as the lead actress and singer of the very successful title song "Mariandl". The film set in the Wachau had the function of delighting the residents of the bombed cities with an unspoilt landscape. The film, which was also shown abroad, was also an effective advertisement for tourism. By April 30, 1951, the film had an unusually high number of visitors of 2.55 million in Austrian cinemas.

In 1948, Franz Antel, one of the most important directors of the following two decades, appeared on the “stage” of Austrian film. With Das singende Haus ” he produced his first feature film, which is set in the 1920s and 1930s and is about theater, music and revue in the time of the emerging jazz rhythms. The main roles were occupied by u. a. Hans Moser and Curd Jürgens . Antel's early works Eva Erbes das Paradis (1954), with Gunther Philipp's first leading role, and the travel comedy Verliebte Menschen with Peter Alexander's first leading role are among the classics of Austrian film comedy.

The last “defector” from the Nazi era was not completed and shown in cinemas until 1949: the operetta comedy Wiener Mädeln by Willi Forst. At the time shooting began, the first color film of Wien-Film.

Overall, the range of Austrian films of the first post-war decade can be encompassed with theatrical comedy, peasant swank, Viennese musical comedy, summer and winter tourism films, biographical films, literary films and documentaries.

What the Viennese productions could not do, the British production The Third Man did in 1950 . The agent film with its famous zither music by Anton Karas made Vienna world famous. The producer was the monumental film producer of the Viennese silent film of the 1920s, Alexander Korda . The script was by Graham Greene . The US film stars Joseph Cotten and Orson Welles played alongside well-known Austrian actors such as Paul Hörbiger , Hedwig Bleibtreu , Siegfried Breuer and Ernst Deutsch .

Genre variations and comedy dominance

In addition to homeland films and (musical) comedies, operettas also experienced a boom. Between 1950 and 1954, two operetta adaptations were made annually, in which works by Edmund Eysler , Jara Beneš , Leo Fall , Robert Stolz , Fred Raymond , Carl Zeller and Johann Strauss were processed. The best-known actors in these films were Elfie Mayerhofer and Curd Jürgens in Küssen ist keine Sünd (1950), Paul Hörbiger in Der fidele Bauer (1951), Johannes Heesters and Waltraut Haas in Tanz ins Glück (1951) and Hannerl Matz in Saison in Salzburg ( 1952) and The Pearl of Tokay (1954). Operas were also filmed, such as Mozart's Don Juan (1955) with Cesare Danova , Josef Meinrad and Marianne Schönauer . The film is also characterized by excellent camera work by Willi Sohm and Hannes Fuchs . In 1953, director Ernst Marischka tried to revive the singer film with Richard Tauber's biography You are the world for me . The attempt was continued in 1954 with the circus film King of the Manege . Radio and record stars of the time such as Rudi Schuricke , Vico Torriani and Rudolf Schock should enrich such films.

Music and travel comedies reached their peak in the first half of the 1950s. Rejected by criticism and ridiculed by intellectuals, such films achieved widespread acceptance among the population. Important directors of these years were Franz Antel , Alfred Stöger , Hubert Marischka , Harald Reinl , Gustav Ucicky , Hans Schott-Schöbinger , Alfred Lehner or Alfons Stummer , whereby they usually did not implement any aesthetic innovations, but instead provided more conventional productions.

The homeland and travel comedies, which are closely related to Heimatfilm, typically tell of mix-ups, luck and coincidences in the life of the average Austrian population. In Ernst Marischka's travel comedy Two in a Car , the actress Johanna Matz , known as "Hannerl" in the following years, achieved great fame. In the following homeland films Die Försterchristel , Hannerl and the operetta film Die Perle von Tokay , she advanced to a new Austrian film star.

Schönbrunn-Film produced some classic comedies in the early 1950s around the main actor Paul Hörbiger: Hallo Dienstmann , in an excellent duet with Hans Moser , Der alte Sünder (1951) and the story of the Viennese folk singer Fiakermilli , together with Gretl Schörg .

In addition to the dominant musical comedies, only a few other genres were served. The crime films Arlberg-Express (1948, director: Eduard von Borsody ) and the critically acclaimed Premium on Death (1949, directorial debut: Curd Jürgens) were just as special as the fairytale film Darling of the World (1949, based on a script by Karl Farkas and Siegfried Bernfeld ).

In the documentary film sector, two important productions were made in 1951: The Salzburg World Theater by documentary film pioneer Max Zehenthofer and Adventure in the Red Sea by the world-famous diver and naturalist Hans Hass . At the Venice Film Festival , Hans Hass received the award for the best full-length documentary for his work. On behalf of Wien-Film, Albert Quendler accompanied the researcher Ernst Zwilling to Africa. He shot the documentary film “Omaru” with local amateur actors there in 1955 , which was enthusiastically received at the premiere in the Cinema-Palast on the Lido . As early as 1952, Quendler made an experimental contribution to documentary filmmaking with Symphonie Wien .

A unique and extraordinary production in Austrian film history appeared in 1952. The science fiction film was made April 1, 2000 with funds from the Federal Government . The film is about the declaration of Austria's independence and the subsequent outrage of the “World Protection Commission”. The multi-million dollar production was to remind the Allies of their release of Austria into independence. This actually happened not 48, but three years later. It is not known whether the film played a role in this.

Coming to terms with the past and transfiguration

Coming to terms with the past was of little importance in Austrian post-war film. However, some filmmakers faced the recent past. For example Eduard Hoesch , who directed The Long Way in 1946 - a film that did not glorify living conditions and dealt with the fate of those returning from the war. The structure was nevertheless typical for an Austrian Heimatfilm: a melodramatic love story, a fateful mix-up, a misunderstanding and finally a happy ending . The main actors were Rudolf Prack , Hans Holt , Maria Andergast , Willy Danek and Thea Weis .

The artistic climax of the 1948 film year was the political, educational, humanitarian film The Trial by GW Pabst . Pabst wanted to tie in with his work Western Front 1918 and Comradeship , which he did not quite succeed. The film thematized the latent anti-Semitism in Central and Eastern Europe using the example of a Hungarian village in 1882, but did not go into the causes or proposed solutions. The film therefore met with little interest from the audience and is one of the less visited of the 25 film productions of 1948. In 1955 he staged The Last Act about the End of Adolf Hitler's Life with Albin Skoda in the lead role.

Even the other life , of Rudolf Steinböck staged in the film studio of the theater in Josefstadt , addressed the recent political past. Despite the presence of the best actors in the theater such as Aglaja Schmid , Robert Lindner , Gustav Waldau , Vilma Degischer , Leopold Rudolf , Siegfried Breuer , Erik Frey , Anton Edthofer and Erni Mangold , this production also found little interest in the cinemas.

In 1948 Maria Schell, who fled to Switzerland in 1938, achieved her first leading role in The Angel with the Trumpet . Hans Holt, Oskar Werner , Paula Wessely and Attila Hörbiger played by their side in this history film directed by Karl Hartl. In contrast to The Trial and The Other Life , this production was very popular, which is why Karl Hartl had an English version produced by Alexander Korda in London . Maria Schell and Oskar Werner in particular came into contact with the English film scene.

Eduard von Borsody produced in 1948, based on a play by Fritz Hochwälder based, the woman on the way . Brigitte Horney , Otto Woegerer and Robert Freytag played the main roles in this film, which was praised by “Funk und Film” as a “milestone on the path to healthy, upright and artistic Austrian film production as it should be and the world expects it from us” Resistance fighters. In addition to Der Hofrat Geiger and Der Herr Kanzleirat , this film was also one of the eight films that were officially shown in Germany in 1948.

A very successful production was Helmut Käutner's The Last Bridge from 1954. The somewhat glorifying anti-war film was about a German doctor who is captured by the Yugoslav partisans and bravely continues her medical duty there. The main actress Maria Schell rose to star thanks to this film. She won the Best Actress Award at the Cannes Film Festival .

Much more has been done in the area of ​​transfiguration than in coming to terms with the past. Director Hans Schott-Schöbinger succeeded with Archduke Johann's great love , played by O. W. Fischer and Marte Harell , the most successful film of the post-war years after Hofrat Geiger . This triggered a chain reaction, so that the transfiguration of the monarchy had a boom again in Austrian films. At first, Paula Wessely failed as producer and leading actress with Maria Theresia - a little-visited film that probably went too far back into the past, but above all failed because of its script.

In 1953, however, Franz Antel jumped on the train of the monarchy films from around 1900, in which he had a cinematic exchange of blows with Ernst Marischka . According to his own script, Antel directed Kaiserwalzer in 1953 and thus achieved the highest grossing result in Germany that an Austrian film had ever achieved. Ernst Marischka followed with The Feldherrnhügel by Alexander Roda Roda , again what Antel 1954 Kaisermanöver countered. Thereupon Ernst Marischka produced Die Deutschmeister in 1955 , with Romy Schneider in a leading role. The duel between the two directors was only briefly interrupted by Hans Schott-Schöbinger's Hofjagd in Ischl (1954) and immediately continued by Franz Antel's Der Kongress tanzt . The argument was ultimately won by Ernst Marischka, who with Sissi , played by Romy Schneider, undoubtedly made one of the most famous and successful Austrian films of all time. This international success was cemented with two sequels ( Sissi - Die Junge Kaiserin , 1956 and Sissi - Fateful Years of an Empress , 1957). Romy Schneider achieved world fame in these roles and in the years that followed had to struggle against identifying with this role.

Between commercial and avant-garde film (1955–1970)

Feature film production
year number
1956 37
1957 26th
1958 23
1959 19th
1960 20th
1961 23

In 1955 the trial operation of television started in Austria, which already existed in West Germany . A new competition for the cinema was emerging. In 1969 the Austrian Broadcasting Corporation (ORF) took up color television, and from 1970 two full-fledged programs existed. The competition from television made film producers around the world aware for the first time that their productions could no longer be sold as naturally and effortlessly. The American film industry responded immediately by introducing the production techniques Cinemascope , Cinerama , 70 mm film , 3-D spectacles and the production of films with elaborate buildings and crowds - similar to the monumental films of the 1920s. The technical changes were soon adopted by the rest of the world, including Austria. From 1957 there was regular television broadcasting throughout Austria on six days of the week.

A 3-D camera was also developed in Austria - by Walter Maier and Kurt Traum from the animation studio Traum & Maier  - but this invention was soon forgotten after a few short films and advertising films. Attempts have been made in this country to counter the incipient decline in visitors with even more intensive recycling of tried and tested things. The number of in-house productions steadily decreased in favor of commissioned productions . When Austrian film producers gave their world rights to German distributors, it often happened with resale that business partners forgot to name Austria as the country of origin.

In addition to homeland films and related genres, projects with other goals were of minor importance. Feature film production experienced an extraordinary high in 1956, but 1958 was the last big year for Heimat- and monarchy films. In the 1960s, attempts were made to counter the dwindling number of visitors to the cinemas by internationalizing film. Italian, German, French and American production companies, actors and directors have been hired to imitate successful foreign productions such as the James Bond films.

Instead of homeland films and comedies, avant-garde films flourished with works by Peter Kubelka and Kurt Kren , which today enjoy international esteem and are among the main works in this genre. Continued this tradition Ernst Schmidt jr. and Dietmar Brehm successfully continued. Commercial productions came off less and less in the 1960s. US productions in particular came to Austria to shoot here, but there were only a few co-productions because Austria was not a member of the EEC . It was also not possible to connect to modern film aesthetics, such as the French Nouvelle Vague . The director Eddy Saller tried to establish an Austrian trash film , but failed. More successful productions in the erotic sector, such as the Mutzenbacher films by Kurt Nachmann with Christine Schuberth .

Film industry

After the Allies withdrew, the Rosenhügel studios became the property of the now state-owned Wien-Film , which showed no interest in continuing the film production. With the exception of the Simmering studio facilities, all Vienna film studios became the property of ORF in 1966 . The ÖFA produced 18 films from 1947 to 1957, which were sold in 21 countries, and Sascha-Filmproduktion produced 15 films in the same period, which were sold in 48 countries. The proceeds from Austrian film productions in Germany were much lower than in previous years.

Although in addition to television, the increasing mobilization of the population with scooters and cars as well as dance halls that were coming into fashion continued to compete with the cinema, film stars and producers were able to further increase their fees in Germany. In 1956, Maria Schell and OW Fischer each earned 1.2 million schillings, Curd Jürgens 900,000 and Nadja Tiller 450,000.

The big film production companies closed themselves to innovations. In order not to take any commercial risk, they willingly made themselves dependent on German film distributors. The so-called Austrian Heimatfilme were tailored to the German market in many respects - be it scenery or actors. It is therefore not surprising that the critics have continued negative attitudes towards such productions. A critic of “Funk und Film” summed up “Homesickness ... where the flowers bloom” in 1958: “Franz Antel tuned this film to the tear ducts and also contributed to a low point in domestic film production” . Paul Hörbiger, who also played a leading role in the above-mentioned film, confessed: “Due to the rich experience I was able to gain during my filming in Germany, I have acquired a Viennese dialect that is also understandable in Berlin and Hamburg. Since Austrian film can never pay for itself in Austria , we have to stage our films according to the wishes of the entire German-speaking audience. "

After the success of the comedies, operetta and homeland films, which were always the same in terms of content and which was already recognizable from 1958, their production fell drastically. The sales and turnover figures decreased accordingly, whereupon Creditanstalt, for example, reacted in 1961 by liquidating the ÖFA. After the domestic film production had already continued to decline in the 1960s, the cinema began to die out in the mid-1960s. In 1957 the film magazine “Mein Film” ended its activity, and at the end of 1965 the last edition of “ Paimann's Filmlisten ” appeared, which up to now served cinema owners as an orientation aid for new films. In terms of the film industry, Germany suffered the same fate in these years - for the same reasons. After this final point of the light and kitschy entertainment films, which had noticeably gained the upper hand since the 1930s, younger generations ensured a more different development of German and Austrian films.

High point of Heimatfilm production

The classic wave of Heimatfilm, in which the simple life of the population of mountain villages was portrayed in cliché, mostly in the form of love stories, was triggered in 1954 by the film Echo der Berge . The film was an Austria-specific modification of the American film Der Wilde and was widely imitated because of its success. The director Billy Wilder , who once emigrated to the United States, described the limited variety of such productions very aptly with the statement “... if the Germans [meant the entire German-speaking area] see a mountain in the background and Paul Hörbiger in the foreground, they are satisfied. "

Among the first of these imitators are the productions The Sennerin von St. Kathrein (1955) by Schönbrunn-Film und Heimatland (1955), directed by Franz Antel based on the novella Krambambuli , which are characterized by mountain and animal shots and thus also have an impact on tourism . The Heimatfilm genre was finally extended to the time of the monarchy and enriched with new motifs, whereby Sissi (1955) by Ernst Marischka with Romy Schneider and Karlheinz Böhm in the leading roles is the most outstanding example, which also achieved international success and saw two sequels . Supported by the commercial success, six Heimatfilme appeared in 1956, including Försterliesl, Die Magd von Heiligenblut and Das Hirtenlied vom Kaisertal .

The genre was quickly expanded even further. German business people and other city dwellers mixed themselves into the Heimatfilm dramaturgy as tourists, and further strengthened these productions in their tourism effectiveness. The films no longer only played in idyllic mountain villages, but also, for example, in the Burgenland wine-growing region - for example in Die Winzerin von Langenlois (1957) with Herta Staal and Gunnar Möller - and in the Salzkammergut lake region - as in Almenrausch and Edelweiß (1957). One or more love stories were an essential part of such films. The best-known Heimatfilm lovers were Anita Gutwell and Rudolf Lenz .

Since the Heimatfilm initially attracted many viewers and was financially successful, it quickly came to overproduction, so that fewer and fewer films made profits. The occasional attempts to make homeland films that dispensed with positive drawings and placed more contemporary aspects in the foreground also only occurred when the genre was already nearing its end. Examples are Wolfgang Schleif's production Der Rote Rausch from 1962 with Klaus Kinski or Der Weibsteufel from 1966 based on a drama by Karl Schönherr . Trygve Gulbranssen offered particularly unusual, as more serious, templates for homeland films . Two of his novels were made into a film by Mundus-Film : Und Ewig die Wälder (1959), directed by Paul May with Gert Fröbe and Hansjörg Felmy, and Das Erbe von Björndal (1960) by Gustav Ucicky with Brigitte Horney .

As early as 1956, there were partly malicious parodies of the Heimatfilm in the Viennese cabaret scene. Under the direction of Gerhard Bronner , Georg Kreisler , Peter Wehle , Kurt Jaggberg and Helmut Qualtinger made fun of the German-language trivial film in the Intimate Theater . They were also involved in some of these productions themselves. Peter Wehle and Gerhard Bronner wrote not only for cabaret, but also for films like ... and who kisses me? (1956) music together. Helmut Qualtinger, on the other hand, could be seen as a film actor in You are the right one (1955). In a musically accompanied program, Blattl vor'm Mund, the numbers were accordingly called Der Halbwilde, Breasts, which mean the world and Orpheus in the film world. This form of criticism offered an analysis of this film genre for the first time.

In 1972, Fritz Walden said, looking back on the entertainment films of the 1950s: “As far as the entertainment films of those years are concerned, word has got around that we weren't very happy, but I have to add right away, it couldn't be otherwise, because the whole - the commercial structure, the whole systematic compulsion to do so - required to think commercially in our, that is, in the western world. Germany had to fill a so-called 'gap in the market', and in this gap in the market the Austrian film, which was dependent on German distributors, had to fill a gap in the market again. That is, we were considered an amusing people; It went so far that if, for example, a really serious film was made, such as Georg Tressler's Der Weibsteufel (1966) , you laughed when you saw our mountains because you were happy, now something funny is going to happen come."

Comedies, ice revues, operettas and monarchy films

Apart from the Heimatfilms, there were also ice revue films such as Symphonie in Gold (1956) or operetta films similar to Heimatfilm such as Karl Parylas Gasparone (1956) based on Carl Millöcker and Ernst Marischka's Opera Ball (1956) based on Richard Heuberger .

It was only after a four-year break that another operetta film was made in 1960, Im Weisse Rößl von der Sascha-Film . The musical arrangements were modernized and new stars were introduced. Peter Alexander and Waltraut Haas played in Im Weiße Rößl . The last commercial operetta films were made by Sascha-Film in 1962: Die Fledermaus , Wedding Night in Paradise and The Merry Widow . In all three, Peter Alexander played a leading role, in two of them alongside Marika Rökk.

Other popular films and comedies of those years were Ober numbers (1957), Hallo Taxi (1958), Im schwarzen Rößl (1961), Count Bobby's adventures (1961), Mariandls Heimkehr (1962), Hochzeit am Neusiedlersee (1963), Happy ending at Lake Attersee (1964) and greetings from Tyrol (1964). For example, Peter Alexander played the leading role in the successful production The Adventures of Count Bobby . Here and in sequels such as Graf Bobby, Der Schrecken des Wilden Westens (1966), you could see the singing star in various disguises - including as a woman.

Monarchy films were also made in the 1950s according to the tried and tested model. In 1956 EW Emos Ihr Korporal and Franz Antels Kaiserball appeared . Willi Forst also staged Kaiserjäger in 1956 with Erika Remberg , Rudolf Forster , Oskar Sima and Gunther Philipp . The script came from Kurt Nachmann , the music from Hans Lang . Other films about the Habsburg monarchy were The Emperor and the Laundry Girl (1957), Franz Antel's Love, Girls and Soldiers (1958) with the singers Renate Holm and Willy Hagara and Mikosch in the Secret Service (1959) with Gunther Philipp.

Many films were also heavily promoted to tourism. For example, Holiday am Wörthersee (1956), engagement on Wolfgangsee (1956), love, summer and music (1956) with the Günther twins, Franz Antel's four girls from the Wachau (1957) with two pairs of twins, Mariandl (1961) or motorists on the move (1961). Mariandl was a remake of Der Hofrat Geiger . Waltraut Haas played the "mother", the former child star Conny Froboess played the "Mariandl", and Hans Moser served as "Windischgruber". This time Rudolf Prack gave the "Hofrat Geiger" .

In Vienna, you city of my dreams with Hans Holt and Hertha Feiler , Willi Forst directed the last time in 1957, before retiring into private life. Ernst Marischka also ended his career as a director after completing Das Dreimäderlhaus with Karlheinz Böhm as Franz Schubert in 1958. In 1959 his brother Hubert died . He himself died four years later. In 1959, attempts were made to correct Romy Schneider's image with the comedy Die Halbzarte . In it, she played an immoral, often revealingly dressed young person who wants to impress an American producer. Her mother appropriately played Magda Schneider .

In 1961, directed by Géza von Cziffra, the ice revue film Kauf Dir eine Colorful Luftballon with Ina Bauer and the skiing film A star falls from the sky with Toni Sailer were released . Another of the ice revue films that were increasingly appearing at the time due to the success of Austrian figure skaters was ... and you, my darling, stay here . This film, produced in 1961 by the Wiener Stadthalle and directed by Franz Antel, had thin threads, a dozen comedians and just as many musicians. It was only the second production of the "Wiener Stadthalle Betriebs- und Produktionsgesellschaft", which was founded in 1961 by the City of Vienna. After a successful first production - the musical comedy Our Great Aunts - and that ice revue film, numerous other productions of this kind followed. In total, the City of Vienna had the 25 productions cost around 100 million schillings (around 7.3 million euros, excluding inflation) . The then chairman of the supervisory board, Glaserer, summed up in an interview with the magazine “Filmkunst” (No. 47, p. 15): “If we hadn't had such success with the 'Tollen Aunts', then all the money would not have gone into the bucket. "

In 1963 the German-Austrian production The great love game after Reigen 51 by Carl Merz , Helmut Qualtinger and Michael Kehlmann was created , which in turn was based on Reigen by Arthur Schnitzler . Alfred Weidenmann directed this comedy . The main roles were cast by Lilli Palmer , Hildegard Knef , Nadja Tiller as well as French and Italian actors. In the comedy Das Liebeskarussell by Intercontinental-Film , which was divided into four relationship stories , in 1965 Gert Fröbe , Catherine Deneuve , Curd Jürgens and the revealingly dressed Swedish film star Anita Ekberg played among others .

In 1965, Salzburg and other idyllic, rural and mountainous regions served as the backdrop for the US film The Sound of Music - one of the world's most watched films with around 1.2 billion viewers, and therefore formative for , especially in the United States the image of Austria for a whole generation. In 1966 he made several satirical films, such as Vojtěch Jasnýs Pfeifen , Betten, Turteltauben and Michael Pflegehar with Bel Ami 2000 or How do you seduce a playboy with Renato Salvatori , Antonella Lualdi and Peter Alexander in the leading roles.

In 1967 the first of the so-called “ landlady films” were made with Terry Torday in the title role and international cast: Susanne, the landlady on the Lahn and the landlady also have a count . This was followed by sequels, which were only slightly different in terms of content, Frau Wirtin also has a niece (1969), Frau Wirtin also likes to blow the trumpet (1970), Frau Wirtin is now doing it even better (1970) and Frau Wirtin's great little daughter (1973). The scripts were written by Kurt Nachmann and directed by Franz Antel .

Crime and agent films

The first crime and spy films of the post-war period appeared in 1960 ( “Women in the Devil's Hand” ) and 1961 ( “Man in the Shadow” ). In the spy film "Women in devil's hand" from the Palace movie played Helmut Schmid and Maria Sebaldt the leading roles, and " Man in the Shadows " was a thriller and also the last production of the ÖFA. Directed by Arthur Maria Rabenalt , Helmut Qualtinger played the police advisor Dr. Radosch, who with his partner played by Fritz Tillmann a . a. on the heels of a suspect played by Herbert Fux .

In 1963 Alfred Vohrer shot for the Sascha film "An Alibi breaks" with Ruth Leuwerik and Peter van Eyck . In addition, there were crime films about " Inspector X " and " Tim Frazer " , in which German, English and American actors such as Tony Kendall , Klaus Kinski , Stewart Granger , Rupert Davies and Günther Stoll played.

Franz Antel tried his hand at an agent film in 1963 together with an Italian production company. The film, directed by Domenico Paolella , was entitled “Masked Ball at Scotland Yard” and featured actors Bill Ramsey , France Anglade , Stelvio Rosi , Trude Herr , Hannelore Auer , Rex Gildo , Peppino di Capri and Rudolf Carl . The agent film 00Sex am Wolfgangsee , whose screenplay was written by Kurt Nachmann , also came from Franz Antel . The production was more impressive because of its bare skin than because of the top performance of the agent played by Paul Löwinger . In 1966 the agent comedy "I gladly killed the women" was made . Directed by Sheldon Reynolds , Alberto Cardone and Robert Lynn starred Stewart Granger , Lex Barker and Pierre Brice .

Film adaptations

In the 1950s and 1960s, high-quality film adaptations outside of the comedy sector, as well as avant-garde productions, only had a small place in domestic film production. Although they occasionally achieved attention at international film festivals or, in individual cases, awards, they had no influence on the overall direction of the domestic film industry.

In 1955, one of the most interesting Austrian literary films was shot on Rosenhügel : Mr. Puntila and his servant Matti . The film is based on a work by Bertolt Brecht and was directed by the Brazilian director Alberto Cavalcanti . Curt Bois played the puntila, but could not convince Bertolt Brecht. This was Fidelio, a film adaptation of Beethoven's opera of the same name. Claude Nollier played the leading role under the director Walter Felsenstein , and the Vienna State Opera Choir sang accompanied by the Vienna Symphony Orchestra . This film represented the last influence of GDR culture on Austria under the dictates of the now withdrawn Soviet occupiers.

After Franz Antel and Lumpazivagabundus had already filmed a film adaptation of Anzengruber in Germany in 1956, such a film was also made in Austria in the same year with Der Schandfleck . A comedy by Hermann Bahr was also filmed in 1956 under the title Nothing but Trouble with Love . Although this was a turn-of-the-century Viennese comedy, the main roles were cast with the German audience favorites Viktor de Kowa , Winnie Markus , Walter Giller and Sonja Ziemann and the Bavarian comedians Beppo Brem and Liesl Karlstadt .

The Vienna film of Otto Dürer made 1957 the most interesting literature that year ago. Scandal in Ischl was again based on a comedy by Hermann Bahr and featured an Austrian cast, including OW Fischer and Rudolf Forster. Based on a book by Johannes Mario Simmel , Hubert Marischka's son , Georg Marischka , directed the critically acclaimed film With raspberry spirit, everything goes better. Above all, the script was praised for its clever dialogues for the main actors OW Fischer and Marianne Koch and the comic comedy.

Based on Frank Wedekind's drama Die Büchse der Pandora , the film Lulu was made in 1962 for the Otto Dürer production under the direction of Rolf Thiele . Nadja Tiller played the main role - Leon Askin in a supporting role . Based on Somerset Maughams Theater , Julia, You're Magical , was created that same year . The film, which starred Lilli Palmer , Charles Boyer , Thomas Fritsch and Jean Sorel , was shown at the Cannes Film Festival. Directed by Alfred Weidenmann . In 1963, Axel Corti staged Kaiser Joseph and the railwayman’s daughter based on Fritz von Herzmanovsky-Orlando . It was also the film in which Hans Moser, who died at the age of 84 that same year, appeared for the last time.

1965 was published on November 3, 1918 after Franz Theodor Csokor . Helmut Qualtinger , Kurt Sowinetz and Alfred Böhm could be seen as three “journeymen” . The young German theater and film director Edwin Zbonek directed both times . Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach's Krambambuli was also filmed in 1965 under the title Ruf der Wälder . Johanna Matz and the Italian Mario Girotti - better known as Terence Hill - played under the direction of Franz Antel . In Otto Dürer's Weibsteufel (1966), based on a template by Karl Schönherr , Maria Emo , Sieghardt Rupp and Hugo Gottschlich played . The film, a serious variant of the otherwise kitschy Heimatfilm, was shown as an Austrian contribution to the Moscow Film Festival .

Freedom of movement and the removal of taboos in film

The second half of the 1950s was also marked by a new approach to sexual issues, which was promoted by the emergence of more revealing women's fashion. Of course, the mass medium of film also played a key role as a transport medium for fashion trends. Even in local films such as Franz Antel's Four Girls from the Wachau (1957), viewers saw blondes in “ hot pants ”. The term “ sex bomb ” was circulating in the media at the time and served as a name for the actresses Marilyn Monroe , Brigitte Bardot , Jayne Mansfield , Gina Lollobrigida and Sophia Loren , who were not stingy with eroticism . In Austria they looked for a “sex bomb” and found it in Edith Elmay , who was immediately referred to by “Funk und Film” as “The Marilyn from Ottakring ”.

Taboo and irritating topics such as juvenile delinquency and dealing with sexuality among young people were also prepared for the film. After the German film “Die Halbstarken” had been successful, Georg Tressler , son of Otto Tressler , directed the youth film “Unter Eighteen” in 1957 . This cliché addresses the rehabilitation of criminal youths. The young leading actresses Vera Chekhova and Edith Elmay, who were consciously dressed in a modern and revealing way, were also intended to stimulate .

This was followed by other productions of this type, which deliberately speculated with the public's interest in the “rotten youth”, such as Hermann Leitner's productions “Because of seduction minors” (1960) and “Tomorrow begins life” (1961) as well as Georg Tressler's “Endstation Liebe” (1958), “Confession of a Sixteen Year Old” (1961). In the obligatory dance club scenes, the record industry provided musical support from Jimmy Makulis , Tony Sandler, the Jochen Brauer Sextet , “The Bambis” and the hit “Life only begins at 17”. These films gave young, often German, actors the chance to make a name for themselves. Including Cordula Trantow , Marisa Mell , Barbara Frey , Corny Collins , Michael Heltau and Gertraud Jesserer .

Sex films were also made for the first time in 1965. For example Paul Milan's The Girl with the Mini as well as “Via Eroica 6” (1967) and Men in their prime tell sex stories (1967) by Fritz Fronz . In 1968 the film magazines also reported a flood of sex films from abroad. The state was not exactly enthusiastic about this, and so in 1968 there was a so-called “porn trial” against producers and distributors of such films in the Vienna Regional Court.

Funded films and cultural films

In the second half of the 1950s and early 1960s, the Ministry of Education funded numerous productions that dealt with current events - so-called " reality films ". Financed entirely by the Ministry of Education, director Alfred Stöger filmed theater performances in the Burgtheater and the Salzburg Festival Hall. The cinema screenings of these recordings were relatively unsuccessful despite the interesting cast.

A production by Walter Kolm-Veltées caused a sensation in 1959 . Funded by the Ministry of Education, “Panoptikum 59” was created , which was supposed to represent a sketch of the time picture. It's about a manipulative and oppressive cultural manager, played by Alexander Trojan , and his dreamy opponent, who tries to fight him with unsuitable means, played by Michael Heltau. Elisabeth Berzobohaty acted as an actress who was cared for by both of them. Gottfried Reinhardt , son of Max Reinhardt , staged " Jedermann " in 1961 with the original cast of the Salzburg Festival .

Aside from filming plays, however, the Ministry of Education's film funding didn't have much to offer. While theater and opera productions have always been funded or fully funded, Austrian films continued to receive only minimal funding, even in times of the decline of the domestic film industry. Above all, short films and documentaries such as “The whole world is a stage” , “Let us bloom” , “Auf Flügeln des Gesangs” (about the Vienna Boys' Choir ) or “Adventure of a drawing pen” about Alfred Kubin's work as a graphic artist were funded.

However, the production of nature documentaries for the cinema declined sharply in these years. Television later appeared as a client for nature films and documentaries. In addition to Vienna, the smaller film production companies from the other federal states also played a larger role in these productions known as “cultural films”. Max Zehenthofer from Salzburg produced “Winter in the Alps” in 1956 , and “Oh, you mein Österreich” was a historical documentation by Herbert Heidmann , who worked for the production company of FW Rossack . In 1960 the nature film “God's Picture Book” by JA Holmann was made , which was extremely well received at its premiere in Hamburg . Further documentaries of these years were “In the Name of Allah” (1960), “South Tyrol - the Land of Longing” (1961) by Harald Zusanek and “Operetta from Vienna” (1961). In 1964 the official film report from the Innsbruck Olympic Games came to the cinemas: "In the mountains of Tyrol" , by Theo Hörmann .

Avant-garde and alternative filmmaking

The first post-war films that stood out from the uniformity of comedies and operetta films were Herbert Vesely's “And the children so like to play soldiers” (1951) by Franz Kafka and “On these evenings” (1952) by Trakl . In 1951 Wolfgang Kudrnofsky appeared with a film production never seen in Austria . He produced a 15-minute disassembly of Edgar Allan Poe's " The Raven " . In 1955 the first 16-minute experimental film by Ferry Radax , Peter Kubelka and Konrad Bayer followed : "Mosaic in Trust" . A popular meeting place for the avant-garde art scene in Vienna in the 1950s was the “Art Club”, where alternative filmmakers such as Kurt Steinwender , Gerhard Rühm , Peppino Wieterik , Paul Kont and Wolfgang Hutter met alongside the aforementioned .

Aside from the commercial film business and the usual distribution system, some young film newcomers also tried to make films in the 1960s. Since, for financial reasons - the productions were financed with own funds and occasionally also with subsidies from the municipality and the federal government - most of the productions were made in the 8 mm or 16 mm format, they had little chance of getting into the cinemas. As a result, they were only shown at special screenings, in cinematheques and at national and international film festivals. These independent filmmakers included Herbert Holba , Karl Kases , Franz Novotny , Franz Josef Fallenberg and Michael Pilz .

Among other things, Ferry Radax produced several documentary films for television that had hitherto little known artists and their work on the subject: "Hundertwasser" (1966), "HC Artmann" (1967), "Trigon Graz" (1967), “NDF-Report” (1967, about the “ New German Film ”), “Wiener Fantastische Realisten” (1970) and others. In 1968 he presented his utopian political film satire “Testament” in the Vienna Metro Cinema . The film, which is about a dictator who has become megalomaniac, who is fought and eliminated by the "counter-revolt of the litarians" and the apolitical hero "James", is a contribution to the year of international youth revolts. Years were Kurt Kren , Marc Adrian , Ernst Schmid Jr. , Otto Muehl , Peter Weibel , Valie Export , Hans Scheugl , Otmar Bauer , Gottfried Schlemmer , Günter Brus , the group "Red-Green-Blue" and others.

Of all these, Valie Export gained greater fame and presented itself as a walking cinema in 1968 on the occasion of the “maraisiade” of the “young film” only with a wooden box. This wooden box had two holes for the “cinema-goers” hands. She called the project "Tapp- und Tastkino". You and co-initiator Peter Weibel caused difficulties with the authorities. In the same year a group of avant-garde filmmakers founded the “Austrian Filmmakers Cooperative”. The purpose of this association was to broker the films of its members to organizers. The German magazine “Film” counted Hans Scheugl's “ZZZ Hamburg Special” among the ten best films of the year in its special edition “Film 1968” . This is all the more remarkable since it wasn't actually a movie. Instead of a film tape, a thread was played on the roll of film - a line appeared on the canvas. The line could be moved by activating the projectionist, which the audience could not know and therefore had to ask themselves whether it was a film or whether the thread was actually pulled through the projector - this is what happened with the showing of the "film" at the Hamburger Filmschau . Aside from this one-off campaign, some filmmakers also experimented with incorporating positive films into their productions.

During these years Peter Kubelka produced, among other things, “Adebar” (1957), “Schwechater” (1958), “Arnulf Rainer” (1960) and “Our trip to Africa” (1966). In 1981 he received the “ Great Austrian State Prize for Film Art ”. The film "The Vulnerable" about urban youth, made by Leo Tichat in 1964, was only released in cinemas in 1967 .

“Memento mori” (1968) and “Reflexion” (1970) by the visual artists Edith Hirsch and Sepp Jahn were celebrated as special achievements in alternative cinema . With the support of ORF and the Ministry of Education, " Moos auf den Steinen " was created in 1968 by Georg Lhotsky with the actors Erika Pluhar , Heinz Trixner and Wilfried Zeller-Zellberg . In this film adaptation of the novel of the same name by Gerhard Fritsch , the Austrian mentality is depicted alternately in color and black and white: You can't find a future because of the past. The film is considered to be one of the first approaches to the “New Austrian Film”.

In 1972, in an interview for the television film “Filmgeschichten aus Österreich”, Peter Weibel summed up the previous work of the “Red-Green-Blue” group, of which he was a member: “What we didn't manage: to get into official business. While the movements of the other cinema in Germany could migrate to television or to the cinema and the arts, we did not succeed here in Austria. Because we got no money and no support, neither from the state, nor from television, nor from the film industry, we had to realize that maybe our ideas, or at least we ourselves, are not powerful enough to change the Austrian cinema situation. "

New Austrian film

Feature film production
year number
1969 3
1970 7th
1971 5
1972 9
1973 6th
1974 8th
1975 6th
1985 12
1995 19th

Filmmaking from the 1970s onwards is sometimes referred to as New Austrian Film . Similar to New German Film, it was influenced by the 1968 movement , often auteur films and dealing with social issues. In addition to the experimental and avant-garde film attempts of the 1960s, it developed more slowly than its German counterpart and only reached its peak in the 1980s. In addition to current issues such as the neglect of society and youth, discrimination against women and other individual avant-garde achievements, the New Austrian Film also dealt with everyday fascism and the Second World War.

In the 1970s, discussions began about the introduction of a film funding law, which was also passed in 1980. In the run-up to this, the filmmakers organized themselves again in associations. In 1977 the "Syndicate of Filmmakers Austria" was created, on whose behalf the first " Austrian Film Days " took place in Velden in the same year (organization: Gerald Kargl and Horst Dieter Sihler). In 1979 the "Association of Austrian Film Directors" was founded. From 1978 to 1983 the "Austrian Film Days" were held annually in Kapfenberg . From 1984 the Austrian Film Office held the “National Film Festival” in Wels, which was later also renamed the “Austrian Film Days”.

Reorientation of Austrian film (1970–1999)

Generation change in the 1970s

The 1970s was the decade with the lowest ever feature film production. However, this trend already began in the early 1960s, when Austria disappeared almost completely from the international film scene for around 15 years. It was not until the mid-1970s that feature film productions were made that could and could also be seen internationally - the films of the so-called “New Austrian Film”. For the time being, however, the last home films and comedies were made, such as Franz Antel's “Unrestricted and Band at Wolfgangsee” (1972), as well as individual literary adaptations and relevant erotic and sex films, which were no longer banned in theaters.

From the mid-1970s, however, a new generation of directors was given the opportunity to show their skills. This also included Peter Patzak , whose first work "Parapsycho - Spectrum of Fear" from 1975 fell into a scheme that was previously unrepresented in Austria, the horror film. The native Persian Mansur Madavi also made a successful feature film debut in 1974 in “The happy minutes of Georg Hauser” , and Dieter Berner was able to establish a critical home film for the first time with the ORF series Alpensaga , which became known beyond the borders. Other important directors who rose in those years were Fritz Lehner , Mara Mattuschka , Franz Novotny and Kitty Kino . The important cameraman Christian Berger also tried his hand at directing temporarily.

Documentaries about politics and nature complemented the modest domestic feature film production for the cinemas. Alfons Stummer contributed to this with his documentation "Europe - Beacon of the World" (1970), Alfons Benesch with "Traumreise über die Alpen" (1971) and Walter J. Zupan with "Vorarlberg - Land der Alpen" . The notable documentaries of these years also include the composer biographies of Hans Conrad Fischer . For example, “Ludwig van Beethoven” (1970) and “The Life of Anton Bruckner” (1974) appeared.

In the area of ​​literary film adaptations, more and more sophisticated literature was devoted to. As an addendum to the political events of the last few years, an ancient drama was adapted for the modern age with “Alkeste - The importance of having protection” by the Greek-born Antonis Lepeniotis . The director found a convincing path from the avant-garde film to the art film to the realistic, suspenseful cinema film. This was also evident in “The Manifesto” (1974) and “Operation Hydra” (1980). In 1972, Wim Wenders staged The Goaly's Fear at the Penalty ” based on Peter Handke's eponymous story with Arthur Brauss , Kai Fischer and Erika Pluhar .

Based on a true story about a peasant who refused to do military service, “The Jägerstätter Case ” was created in 1971 based on a script by Hellmut Andics and directed by Axel Corti . For “Dead spots” , based on a book by Michael Scharang , this director received the newly created Great Austrian State Prize for Cinematic Art in 1975 . In 1976 Titus Leber released the experimental music film “Kindertotenlieder” based on a composition by Gustav Mahler . His 1978 film "Friend I moved in" was of the same kind .

In 1976 the modern passion play " Jesus von Ottakring " was premiered in Vienna after a play . Wilhelm Pellert was both the author of the play and the director of the film adaptation, which clearly reveals the Austrian “backyard fascism”. Jörg A. Eggers “Ich will Leben” (I want to live) was submitted for the Oscar abroad and received the title “Valuable” in Austria . The film, which premiered in 1976, describes the story of a child severely disabled by an accident and how the parents deal with it.

The non-fiction author and underground filmmaker Ernst Schmid Jr. produced his first full-length production in 1977. It was the experimental film "Wienfilm 1896–1976" , which wanted to convey a differentiated image of Vienna to the audience with collages. Götz Hagmüller and Dietmar Graf's “The memorable pilgrimage of the emperor Kanga Musa from Mali to Mecca” was an extraordinary production of that year . The film was shot in Africa and has a strange effect thanks to the poetic camera work and a gentle sequence of cuts. Attila Hörbiger acted as narrator . In the same year Franz Antel came up with Tony Curtis as the leading actor in his production "Casanova & Co" .

In 1977 John Cook and Susanne Schett presented “Slow Summer” , a film that portrayed financially weak filmmakers, their fantasies and their environment - a kind of self-reflection. Peter Patzaks was responsible for the socially critical feature film “Kassbach” from 1979, which deals with fascism and neo-Nazism. The main role was played by Walter Kohut .

At the end of the 1970s, several films were made that played a certain pioneering role in the productions of the 1980s and 1990s. For example Mansur Madavi's “The Blind Owl” (1978), which tells the story of a girl who escapes from a reformatory. It is one of the first Austrian films to deal with the lives of people locked up - be it in closed institutions or prisons. A series of feature films dealing with Austrian history before World War II triggered Maximilian Schell's sensitive film adaptation of Ödön von Horváth's play "Tales from the Vienna Woods" (1979). And Valie Export's productions “Menschenfrauen” (1979) and “Invisible Opponents” (1979) were the prelude to the so-called “women's films” in which mostly disadvantaged women were portrayed.

Boom in the film scene in the 1980s

After the historic low in domestic film production in the 1970s, the 1980s experienced an upswing due to numerous first works by young directors as well as increased production of innovative and socially critical amateur and feature films. Together with the other Austrian avant-garde and underground filmmakers, Valie Export , Peter Kubelka and Peter Weibel made a significant contribution to ensuring that Austrian film history after 1945 is recognized internationally.

The first public success of the 1980s was a different kind of comedy: Franz Novotny's Exit - just don't panic is about two Viennese rowdies played by Paulus Manker and Hanno Pöschl . The film was one of the first to benefit from the new Austrian Film Funding Act . This came into force in 1981 after many filmmakers and film scholars had demanded it for decades. One of the most interesting attempts of the New Austrian Film was Niki List's Malaria - also an unusual comedy that was awarded the Max Ophüls Prize in 1983 . The film, about late adolescents, impressed with its high color quality, bizarre camera work and revealing humor. At the same time, it represented the film debut of the early career cabaret artist Andreas Vitasek . Niki List's second, very successful, attempt to establish a contemporary entertainment cinema was the film Müller's office from 1986. This detective comedy, accompanied by singing, has 441,000 visitors in Austria as the most successful production of the New Austrian Film before the turn of the millennium. Peter Patzak kicked off a unique satirical series of films about the Viennese detective inspector Kottan in 1981 with The Efficient Belongs to the World. Together with Helmut Zenker , he wrote the congenial templates for this film as well as for the abundance of its sequels, which were produced from 1984 as parts of the Kottan determined series for ORF.

The German-Austrian-Hungarian joint production Mephisto even brought in an Oscar abroad. The film directed by István Szabó was based on a novel by Klaus Mann . The acting performance of the main actor Klaus Maria Brandauer contributed significantly to the international success . With the title Especially valuable was Titus Leber music-experimental film Anima - Symphonie Fantastique provided. This highlight of the calligraphic film came up with Charo López and Mathieu Carrière as leading actors and was shown at the Cannes Film Festival.

Margareta Heinrich's documentary The Dream of Sandino (1980) was also an extraordinary production . In it she had the population of Nicaragua questioned about the Sandinista liberation for seven weeks . The two-hour result was released in theaters in 1981. Werner Grusch undertook another anti-imperialist expedition with Bonjour Capitaliste in 1982 . Based on the novel of the same name by Friedrich Torberg , Wolfgang Glück directed Der Schüler Gerber in 1981 . After Jesus von Ottakring and Kassbach, the film again set strong socio-critical and artistic accents. In 1982 Edwin Zbonek presented his film about the affluent society, Gehversuche . Critics compared the film to Federico Fellini's I Vitelloni and in A Little Dying Mansur Madavi tells the story of an old person, played by Alfred Solm , fighting against being evicted from his apartment.

As a contribution to socially critical filmmaking, several films about young outsiders were made in the 1980s. These productions usually caused a stir in the media and heated discussions. One of them is Walter Bannert's The Heirs from 1981. This film is about two sixteen-year-olds who become members of the New Right by chance rather than on purpose. In the same year Dieter Berner made a film about the disorientation of young city dwellers with The Real Man . 1982 followed with Die Ausgesperrten, the film adaptation of the novel of the same name by Elfriede Jelinek , directed by Franz Novotny with Paulus Manker in the lead role. In their second production, I wanted to live with drug and alcohol addicts in 1983, the married couple Ruth and Alfred Ninaus once again addressed cases of adolescent hardship. The aesthetically most unusual and irritating works of the 1980s, however, were Paulus Manker's directorial debut Schmutz (1985) and Michael Synek's Die totenfisch (1989). The two films , which have surrealist elements, are about outsiders in conflict with the environment.

Films about inmates of prison or insane asylums dealt with another dark side of society. One of the first such films was Houchang Allahyaris Fleischwolff (1980), which tells of life in a prison. Director Ernst Josef Lauscher highlighted the gloomy mood in an asylum by shooting his first full-length film Kopfstand entirely in black and white . The content is the story of a man who is being held in a psychiatric institution because of a trivial matter. Andreas Gruber made his debut in 1983 with a similar film. In inside and outside its key player hopes to be released from psychiatry.

In 1981 Franz Antel caused a sensation with a production that was unusual for him. It tells the fate of the butcher Karl Bockerer during the Nazi era, who masters all problems with humor and humanity. The Bockerer was awarded the actor's prize for "the Bockerer" Karl Merkatz at the 1980 Moscow Film Festival . The later effects of National Socialism, on the other hand, are thematized in the unusual love story Kieselsteine (1983). In this first work by Lukas Stepanik , the two main characters are a Jewish woman and a German, thirty years after the end of the Second World War. In 1988 Egon Humer also remembered the National Socialist past . In his documentary about the National Socialist killing center Schloss Hartheim T4 - Hartheim 1 - Dying and Living in the Castle , he uncovered the fact that such institutions existed so far, and at the same time made the horrific events in such an institution possible.

In 1982 Peter Hajek emerged with his first film production. With Be tender, the penguin, the 41-year-old film critic presented a movie whose message is the demand for equality between men and women. Marie Colbin played the leading role in this highly successful relationship comedy with over 210,000 visitors . In 1983 , Kitty Kino created a partly self-deprecating women's film with Karambolage . Marie Colbin, Renee Felden , Gerhard Rühmkopf and Wilfried Baasner advanced into one of the last domains of the men's world - competition billiards . Susanne Zanke also dealt with the situation of women in society , who in 1989 produced a noteworthy female portrait with The Scorpio Woman.

Xaver Schwarzenberger's film adaptation of The Silent Ocean, which tells of a failed doctor who seeks refuge in a village, received, among other things, the Silver Bear at the 1983 Berlinale . As a cameraman for this film, Schwarzenberger received the German Camera Prize a year later . Fritz Lehner's epic Schöne Tage (1981) about mountain farming and Christian Berger's mountain farmer drama Raffl (1983), which was written at the time of the Napoleonic era, are also part of a new type of home film that, apart from kitsch and naive cheerfulness, depicts the sometimes difficult life in the country Cast plays. Wolfram Paulus Heimatfilm Heidenlöcher (1985) about loyalty and betrayal, however, was set at the time of the Second World War and Angela Summereder created the stylistically idiosyncratic portrait of a poor peasant woman unjustly accused of murder in Zechmeister in 1981 . Even Leopold Huber's debut film brain burning is one of the remarkable and critical home movies of 1983. The movie is about human abysses in an environment of drunks rural village.

Michael Haneke directed his first film for the cinema in 1989 with The Seventh Continent . As in all subsequent films, he himself wrote the script for this drama, which won awards at the Locarno and Flanders film festivals. Michael Schottenberg tried a thriller with Caracas (1989). The attempt was at least successful in terms of criticism, as the film received two awards: the Cannes Film Festival Youth Prize and the Max Ophüls Prize . However, the film only attracted a few thousand visitors to domestic cinemas. Further attempts in the thriller genre, which were based on both foreign productions and the extremely successful TV crime series Kottan determined , were mostly unsuccessful in the 1990s.

Comedy renaissance in the 1990s

The socially critical New Austrian Film continued in the 1990s . The comedy production was revived with the so-called "cabaret films". These take up a principle that was established in the silent film era - the use of popular cabaret artists as film actors. One innovation, however, was that typical negative character traits of Austrians could now also be portrayed and caricatured without being rejected by the audience. Cabaret and cabaret film owes this facet above all to Helmut Qualtinger , who caused a sensation in the 1960s with his carefree portrayal of Austrians.

Typical examples of such films are Paul Harather's " India " (1993) with Josef Hader and Alfred Dorfer , Harald Safeitz ' " Muttertag " (1993) with Roland Düringer and Alfred Dorfer in half a dozen roles as well as almost the entire rest of the Austrian cabaret scene in the other roles, or " Free Play " (1995), also by Harald SICHERITZ. These films attracted up to 230,000 visitors to the cinemas, but are also crowd pullers on television year after year.

Another variant of the comedies of the 1990s are satirical grotesques like “Die Ameisenstraße” (1990) or slightly entertaining social games like “I love Vienna” (1991) or “Tafelspitz” (1992). While Michael Glawogger continues the tradition of the grotesque farce in “Die Ameisenstraße” by depicting a Viennese apartment building as a microcosm of opposing characters, Houchang Allahyari's “I love Vienna” is a comedic about the clash of two cultures, Orient and Occident, in Vienna. A western comedy that reached almost 190,000 visitors was presented in 1999 by Harald SICHERITZ. " Wanted " was in the Lower Austrian "Wild West Adventure City " " No Name City " with Alfred Dorfer , Michael Niavarani , Simon Schwarz u. a. turned.

An exception in the film productions of the 1990s turned Andreas Gruber's historical drama " Rabbit Hunt - Out of sheer cowardice there is no mercy " is from 1994 The film is called ". Mühlviertler Rabbit Hunt " became known merciless manhunt for escaped inmates of the Mauthausen concentration camp in the course of which individual farming families hid refugees despite risking their own lives. The film is an exception, not because of its difficult subject, but also because, in contrast to comparable productions from earlier years, the film also reached a wide audience.

In the 1990s, documentaries on sociopolitical topics and marginalized groups were added to a greater extent than before. Aside from the often monotonously instructive style of television documentaries, the decline of a provincial industrial region in "Postal address 2640 Schlöglmühl" by Egon Humer , as well as the everyday life of foreign newspaper sellers in Vienna in "Good News" by Ulrich Seidl, was documented in 1990 .

Strong autobiographical traits and surrealist models can be seen in Wolfgang Murnberger's early works “Himmel oder Hölle” (1990) and “Ich veil” (1994) . The first tells about life in the country from the perspective of young people, the second about the dreary everyday life of soldiers in a provincial barracks. Barbara Albert's socially critical drama Nordrand (1999) is also about young people . Due to the numerous international awards, the production, and with it the young leading actress Nina Proll , received greater attention in Austria.

In the children's and youth film sector, which was never able to establish itself in Austria, Bernd Neuburger ( “Ferien mit Silvester” , 1990, “Lisa und die Säbelzahntiger” , 1995) and Wolfram Paulus were the most active directors in the 1990s . The second had 150 children help to create “A Backpack Full of Lies” (1996) and was also successful with this film on the German market, where it was released with 100 copies.

Michael Haneke directed his second feature film in 1991 with Benny's Video - again a drama that comes up with cold-feeling characters and shows a clinical picture of society. Florian Flicker offered a very special kind of utopian scenario in his 1993 science fiction film “Halbe Welt” . The second most popular New Austrian Film after “Müller’s Office” was Joseph Vilsmaier’s adaptation of Robert Schneider’s novella Schlafes Bruder (1995).

With his works dedicated to cinematographic kinetics, Peter Tscherkassky continued the tradition of Austrian avant-garde film and ensured numerous festival successes. Likewise Michael Kreihsl , who followed up on Titus Leber's calligraphic film experiments and was awarded the Caligari Film Prize of the Berlin International Film Festival in 1996 for Charm's incidents .

Even Virgil Widrich could excite with his short films international attention, as Martin Arnold with his found footage edits. Other filmmakers worth mentioning are Antonin Svoboda , Jörg Kalt , Jessica Hausner , Barbara Gräftner , Ruth Mader , Anja Salomonowitz and Mirjam Unger .

Austrian film in the 21st century

Cinema film production
Austrian sole or majority productions
year number
2000 17th
2001 12
2002 26th
2003 20th
2004 24
2005 24
2006 33

Filmmaking at the beginning of the 21st century tied in part with trends from the 1990s, for example in the area of ​​comedy production, which set new visitor records in the 2000s. But new priorities were also set in the area of ​​socially critical films and documentaries, which also caused a stir and awards abroad, and thus raised Austrian films to an unprecedented level of quality. Austrian documentaries, shorts and feature films are more present at film festivals than ever before and win prestigious film awards every year.

In the comedies, the trend of using cabaret artists was continued with great success with productions such as Hinterholz 8 , Poppitz and MA 2412 - Die Staatsdiener . The cabaret artist Roland Düringer played one of the main roles in all three films, which drew between 230,000 ( “MA 2412 - Die Staatsdiener” ) and 620,000 ( “Hinterholz 8” ) visitors. While the two films "Hinterholz 8" and "Poppitz" directed by Harald Sicherheitsitz tell of the difficulty of building a house and a catastrophic club vacation, "MA 2412 - The Film" is a cinematic treatise of the successful TV sitcom " MA 2412 “, Which had previously caricatured the Austrian civil service with great success for years.

In the field of satirical grotesques, too, three audience successes were recorded. Wolfgang Murnberger again directed Come, sweet death (2000) and its sequels Silentium (2004) and The Bone Man (2008). All three are film adaptations of novels by Wolf Haas , with Josef Hader in the leading role.

Ulrich Seidl kicked off the internationally acclaimed, socially critical films of the new millennium in 2001 with Hundstage . The film, which received the jury's grand prize in Venice, among other places, tells stories of repulsive Austrian characters in a shocking way. Hans Weingartner's low-budget production The fat years are over , on the other hand, was a more entertaining, socially critical feature film - a German-Austrian co-production that was also featured in the Cannes Film Festival competition .

Michael Glawogger emerged in the 2000s with the internationally acclaimed films " Nacktschnecken " (2004) and " Slumming " (2006), as well as the documentary " Workingman's Death " (2005), and the director who has lived and worked in France for several years Hubert Sauper's documentary Darwin's Nightmare ” won a César , an award at the Venice Film Festival and even an Oscar nomination for “Best Documentary”. Since 1989 Michael Haneke has caused a sensation with dramas dissecting human sensitivities. He has achieved world renown at least since his world-wide award-winning productions Die Klavierspielerin (2001) based on the novel by Elfriede Jelinek with Isabelle Huppert , Code: unbekannt (2000) with Juliette Binoche and Caché (2005) with Binoche and Daniel Auteuil . The former reached around 2.5 million cinema-goers worldwide - most of them in France, where around 700,000 people attended the film. “Die Klavierspielerin” , a co-production with France, is thus the most internationally successful Austrian production in recent years.

The most successful production of 2006 was Erwin Wagenhofer's documentary We Feed the World . In 2008 he similarly made international finance and globalization the subject of his next film Let's Make Money . The high point of recent film history from an Austrian perspective was the Oscar award for Stefan Ruzowitzky's Die Fälscher (2007) in the category Best Foreign Language Film .


German-language literature:

  • Josef Aichholzer : Documentary filmmaking in Austria. Filmladen, Vienna 1986.
  • Ruth Beckermann : Without subtitles. Special number, Vienna 1996, ISBN 3-85449-090-9 .
  • Francesco Bono, Paolo Caneppele, Günter Krenn (eds.): Electric shadows. Filmarchiv Austria, Vienna 1999, ISBN 3-901932-02-X .
  • Elisabeth Büttner , Christian Dewald: The Daily Burning (A History of Austrian Films from the Beginnings to 1945). Residence, Salzburg and Vienna 2002, ISBN 3-7017-1261-1 .
  • Elisabeth Büttner, Christian Dewald: Connection to Tomorrow (A History of Austrian Films from 1945 to the Present). Residence, Salzburg and Vienna 1997, ISBN 3-7017-1089-9 .
  • Walter Fritz : I experience the world in the cinema: 100 years of cinema and film in Austria. Brandstätter, Vienna 1997, ISBN 3-85447-661-2 .
  • Arthur Gottlein: The Austrian film - a picture book. Austrian Society for Film Studies, Communication u. Media research, Vienna 1976.
  • Barbara Langl, Karl-Gerhard Strassl, Christina Zoppel: Film made in Austria: financing, production, exploitation. StudienVerlag, Innsbruck 2003, ISBN 3-7065-1627-6 .
  • Franz Marischka: Always smile: stories and anecdotes from theater and film. Amalthea, Vienna 2002, ISBN 3-85002-442-3 .
  • Austrian Central Statistical Office: theater, film, radio, television. Ueberreuter, Vienna 1959.
  • Claudia Preschl: Women and Film and Video: Austria. Filmladen, Vienna 1986.
  • Gottfried Schlemmer, Brigitte Mayr: Austrian film: From its beginnings to today. Synema, Vienna 1999, ISBN 3-901644-03-2 .
  • Friedrich Weissensteiner: They played for us: 105 short portraits of famous film and stage personalities. Edition Praesens, Vienna 1999, ISBN 3-7069-0029-7 .
  • Scientific films . Vienna 1963.

Foreign language literature:

  • Robert von Dassanowsky : Austrian cinema - a history. McFarland, Jefferson (North Carolina) and London 2005, ISBN 0-7864-2078-2 . (English)
  • Eleonore Lappin: Jews and film = Juden und Film: Vienna, Prague, Hollywood. Institute for the History of the Jews in Austria, Vienna 2004, ISBN 3-85476-127-9 . (English)
  • Ernst Schürmann: German film directors in Hollywood: film-emigration from Germany and Austria: an exhibit of the Goethe Institutes of North America. 1978. (English)
  • Modern Austrian Literature: Special issue: Austria in film. International Arthur Schnitzler Research Association, Riverside (Ca.) 1999. (English)

See also

  • TV series on the topic: Film stories from Austria . Production: ORF , 1970–1972, 10 parts of 55 min each, director: Willi Forst ;

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Monika Kaczek: A tiny piece of homecoming. In: Eleonore Lappin (Ed.): Jews and film - Juden und Film. Mandelbaum Verlag, Vienna 2004, p. 58.
  2. ^ Rudolf Ulrich: Austrians in Hollywood. Filmarchiv Austria Verlag, Vienna 2004, ISBN 3-901932-29-1 , p. 611.
  3. ^ E. Kieninger: A la Lumière . In: Medien und Zeit 4 (1993), p. 23.
  4. Walter Fritz: I experience the world in the cinema . Vienna 1996. p. 54.
  5. Walter Fritz, p. 69.
  6. ^ Walter Fritz, Margit Zahradnik: Memories of Count Sascha Kolowrat. Vienna 1992, p. 32 f.
  7. ^ The Austrian filmmaker. 1937, No. 1, p. 3.
  8. ^ Joseph Roth: Connection in the film. In: New Daily Book. Paris, March 23, 1935.
  9. My film . No. 639, March 25, 1938, p. 6.
  10. ^ Walter Fritz: In the cinema I experience the world - 100 years of cinema and film in Austria. Vienna 1996, p. 185.
  11. Georg Herzberg on Hans Mosers in "Love is duty free" in "Filmkurier" No. 3, 7.1. 1941, p. 2.
  12. J. Schuchnig: GW Pabst. Dissertation, Vienna, 1976, p. 33.
  13. Austrian film and cinema newspaper. No. 495, January 21, 1956, p. 1.
  14. from W. Höfig: Der deutsche Heimatfilm 1947–1960. Stuttgart, 1973. p. 73.
  15. ^ Obituary by Walter Fritz. In: The furrow. No. 17, April 29, 1981, p. 15.
  16. a b World Film Production Report (excerpt) ( Memento from August 8, 2007 in the Internet Archive ), Screen Digest, June 2006, pp. 205–207 (accessed June 15, 2007)
  17. Walter Fritz: I experience the world in the cinema. Vienna 1996, p. 272.
  18. For the first time feature films and documentaries with theatrical release from Austrian sole or majority production ; Information for 2004–2006: Film Industry Report 2007, facts + figures 2006 (PDF) , Österreichisches Filminstitut, December 2007, p. 16 (page accessed on April 22, 2008)
This article was added to the list of excellent articles on July 18, 2006 in this version .