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1. April 2021 - Haider lebt

Austria 2002
produced by
Joao Pedrosa, Peter Kern (executive) for Alma Film
directed by Peter Kern
starring August Diehl, Traute Höss, Heinrich Herki, Günter Tolar, Hilde Sochor, Johannes Thanheiser, Christine Keufmann, Paulus Manker, Robert Hauer-Riedl, Urs Hefti, Hanspeter Müller, Alena Baich, Michou Friesz, Peter Turrini, Robert Schindel, Marlene Streeruwitz, Helmut Berger, Michael Schottenberg, Wolfgang Makula, Christian nisslmüller, Christoph Eder, Conny de Beauclair, Thomas Strasser, Jeremy Smith, Rodolf Kräuma, Willibald Meierhofer, Sabine Furtenbach, Lisa Haag, Marlies Lick, Emil Gallé, Silvia Hagler, Christian Lick, Carmen Malin, Stefan Pohl
written by Peter Kern

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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The year is 2021: Austria is to be taken over by George W.Bush's USA, and Austrian chancellor Jrg Haider (Heinrich Herki) has been assassinated in this connection for whatever reason. Though not everybody believes he's dead, like German documentary filmmaker Kaiser (August Diehl), who will do whatever it takes to track Haider down, even if the American oppressors try to prevent that at all costs. Eventually, Kaiser tracks down Haider's vice chancellor (and former lover) Susanne Riess-Passer (Traute Hss) and keeps trailing her in hopes she will lead him to Haider ... but she leads him only to Haider's grave.

End of story?

Nope, because all of a sudden, former chancellor Wolfgang Schssel's (Gnter Tolar) travelling political circus passes by, and on it, Riess-Passer notices her Jrg Haider, kept in a cage with other politicians. Still being in love with him, Riess-Passer crawls into the cave to be with Haider, and when Kaiser finds out he's actually Riess-Passer and Haider's son, he joins them inside ... but then Schssel fetches a machine gun and shoots them all dead.

 

To properly understand 1. April 2021 - Haider lebt, one has to have a rough idea of the Austrian political landscape in the early 2000's: After terrible losses in the 1999 election, Wolfgang Schssel's conservative People's Party (VP) - then third strongest force of the nation - went into coalition with the (even in Austria) widely disliked right wing Freedom Party (FP) - second strongest force - and made himself chancellor, this way playing a trick on the FP's controversial leader Jrg Haider, who once had the goal to become chancellor in 1998 (he didn't succeed). Austria was then sanctioned for its gouvernment by the EU, and it was disliked even within the country, but in all honesty, Wolfgang Schssel proved to be the first man able to keep Jrg Haider at bay.

All these facts are only indirectly connected to the film at hand, a movie that tries very hard to make a political statement, but only manages to collect a handful of Austrian left wing celebrities to make what is supposed to be a satire - but as a satire, the movie lacks both irony and actual relevance. What remains is a sloppily told story about nothing in particular but with loads of name-dropping to fake insight and that's not really held together by the narrative device of the documentary. A lack of directorial ideas doesn't halp either of course. In other words, a very unnecessary film about a subject matter that was especially in 2002 in bad need of good political satire.

 

By the way, the actual end of Jrg Haider (which happened only after the release of the film) was a tragic one as well: In 2005, he split away from the FP (apparently he was no longer right-wing enough) to form his own party, the BZ, which only caused political ripples compared to the waves the FP had caused. In 2008, Haider died in a car crash he caused himself after drinking about a bottle of Vodka in an alleged gay club - a story of course ripe for conspiracy theories ...

 

review by Mike Haberfelner

 

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