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1. April 2000

April 1 2000

Austria 1952
produced by
Karl Ehrlich (executive) for Wien-Film
directed by Wolfgang Liebeneiner
starring Josef Meinrad, Hilde Krahl, Waltraud Haas, Judith Holzmeister, Elisabeth Stemberger, Ulrich Bettac, Karl Ehmann, Peter Gerhard, Curd Jürgens, Robert Michal, Heinz Moog, Guido Wieland, Paul Hörbiger, Hans Moser, Theodor Danegger, Franz Herterich, Otto Tressler, Hans Ziegler, Pepi Glöckner-Kramer, Martha Marbo, Eva Payrer, Eerika Pirschl, Erna Schickl, Marianne Schönauer, Alma Seidler, Anneliese Stöckl-Eberhard, Hansi Stork, Ingeborg Wieser, Karl Bachmann, Karl Eidlitz, Hans Frank, Erik Frey, Harry Fuss, Hugo Gottschlich, Fred Hennings, Hans Holt, Fritz Imhoff, Fred Liewehr, Heribert Meisel, Alfred Neugebauer, Toni Niessner, Hans Richter, Leopold Rudolf, Stefan Skodler, Ernst Stankovski, Wiener Sängerknaben
written by Rudolf Brunngraber, Ernst Marboe

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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To really appreciate this film and the political satire behind it, one has to know some of the historical facts:

Along with Germany, Austria has been defeated in the Second World War, and even though Germany was the driving force behind the war, Austria's role in the war was less than flattering at least from the point on when the Austrians happily welcomed the Germans into their country to take it over ... and then one mustn#t forget, Hitler, even though he rose to power in Germany, was an Austrian by birth.

After the war followed the period of occupation, when Russia, the USA, Great Britain and France each controlled a sector of the country, and the four occupation forces shared Austria's capital Vienna among them. The occupation lasted until 1955, by the way ...

So much for the historical facts, this film though, made in 1952 and thus well before the end of the occupation, posed the question "what if Austria was still occupied in 2000 ?"

 

On April 1st,t he newly elected Prime Minister (Josef Meinrad) of Austria declares Austria independent and wants to throw the occupying forces out of the country, but in a peaceful way. The Global Union (a sort of UNO) however takes the actions of Austria as an act of war and soon enough the President of the Global Union (Hilde Krahl) comes to Austria via a weirdlooking UFO and accompanied by soldiers in even weirder looking uniforms carrying rayguns (this is the future you know), to put the Prime Minister and all of Austria on trial ... but the Prime Minister has taken this into consideration and has prepared a line of defense in which actors portray the greatest and most peaceful events of Austrian history, in which the citizen's of Austria demonstrate their peace-loving qualities in peaceful protest marches, and in which the woman President of the Global Union are to be won over by Viennese charm, Austrian operetta music and Wiener Gemütlichkeit (= Viennese comfortableness) complete with Spritzer ... and gradually, the President of the Global Union gives in not only to the Prime Minister's arguments but also his charms, and in the end, she herself declares Austria liberated ... just before one of her councilmen (Robert Michal, not very convincing as a Chinaman) finds a document that rules the occupation unlawful to begin with ...

 

Now this would sound like fun, a satire about the peaceful resistance against the occupation, made during the occupation. Unfortunately the film as such is rather a disappointment, much more effort is put into creating one clichéd and cheesy scene after the next than in actually making a political statement, and so the finished film looks less like a satire and more like an overlong advertisment for tourism in Austria, since the film really throws everything Austria has got at the audience, its favourite tourist spots, Austrian music from Mozart to light operetta and Heurigen Musik (songs sung in specifically Austrian versions of winebars), Austria's aristocrats from the past, its favourite boys choir the Wiener Sängerknaben and its famed trained palominos the Lippizaner, ... in fact, the film is so over-kitsched it totally loses its political impact on even the most attentive audience - which is a bit of a shame.

 

By the way, the film was (reportedly) released in the USA in a recut version in which the Global Union becomes a race of extraterrestrials ... oh well.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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On the same day
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WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

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produced by and starring
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directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
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starring
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out now on DVD