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by Uli Jürgens
In Louise, writer, director and radio host Uli Jürgens has deliberately opted for a simple and linear mise-en-scène, free of unnecessary directorial virtuosities, for a sensitive and tenderly sincere homage to one of the most important pioneers of Austrian cinema, and not only. At the Viennale 2019, at the opening of the retrospective dedicated to Louise Kolm-Fleck.
In February 2019, writer, director and radio host Uli Jürgens published the book Louise, Licht und Schatten (Mandelbaum Verlag Wien editions), a detailed biography of Austrian film director and film pioneer Louise Kolm-Fleck. This book made Louise Kolm-Fleck herself an object of attention once again for the major Austrian film institutes. And so, on the occasion of the Viennale 2019 , the Filmarchiv Austria has dedicated a section to the film director, in which feature films directed by her and her husband Jakob Fleck after their expatriation to Germany have been selected, as well as interesting films shot in Austria in the early 20th century and produced by her and her long-time crew.
At the opening of this retrospective, the experimental short film Louise was screened, directed in 2019 by Uli Jürgens herself, who, in just a few minutes, retraced the main steps in the life of the important film pioneer.
Right from the opening credits, therefore, one can see how the director has become attached to the figure of Louise Kolm-Fleck, giving this precious little work of hers almost the mood of a fairy tale. Just as the sweet music at the opening immediately suggests.
Shortly after the opening credits, then, the pages of an old newspaper open up before our eyes. From its pages come old photographs dating back to the beginning of the 20th century, in which we see, first of all, a very young Louise (born, in reality, under the name of Aloisia), immediately passionate about the seventh art. The images, therefore, begin to flow quickly before the audience’s eyes, accompanied by short captions illustrating the director’s life, all in a simple and delicate overlay animation.
Louise only runs for a few minutes. Yet, they are perfectly enough to give us a general idea of who this important figure in the history of Austrian cinema was. Let’s agree, both in terms of the direction and narrative structure adopted, Uli Jürgens’ Louise certainly does not represent a completely innovative work, especially when one considers how prolific avant-garde cinema actually is in Austria. And yet, after watching it, it becomes clear that the director herself wanted to focus her attention exclusively on the character of Louise Kolm-Fleck, deliberately opting for a simple and linear mise-en-scene, without useless or gratuitous directorial virtuosity, in order to avoid distracting the audience from the real focus of her work.
And her initial intentions are, in fact, perfectly fulfilled. At the end of Louise, one has, as previously pointed out, the impression of having just witnessed a small fairy tale with naïve and almost childlike tones. A tale that really happened, in a sensitive and tenderly sincere homage to one of the most important pioneers of Austrian cinema, and not only.
Original title: Louise
Directed by: Uli Jürgens
Country/year: Austria / 2019
Running time: 4’
Genre: animation, experimental
Screenplay: Uli Jürgens
Cinematography: Gerald Gottlieb
Produced by: Uli Jürgens