There is no place for dialogue in Enter Paradise for €3.20. It is the noises, in this case, that are almost the absolute protagonists. And yet, despite the indistinct chattering, despite bouncing balloons and incessantly ringing mobile phones, there is a certain quietness. And immediately, we are reminded of Jacques Tati’s cinema and its undisputed elegance.
Where is Paradise?
It is no coincidence that the short film Enter Paradise for €3.20, directed by Edith Stauber in 2008, has rightfully become a cult film within contemporary Austrian cinema. Indeed, this work has managed to capture a central aspect of everyday life with a benevolent (but also cynical enough) gaze and pleasant humour. All this enriched by a successful animation that from the very first frames manages to catch the attention of even the initially more sceptical spectators. This short and precious work by Edith Stauber was initially intended to be screened as part of the Diagonale 2020retrospective Sehnsucht 2020 – Eine kleine Stadterzählung, in combination with Bernhard Frankfurter’s 1976 feature film Wie Sand am Meer – Familiennotizen aus Urlaub und Alltage , and, following the festival’s cancellation, was included in the programme Diagonale 2020 – The Unfinished.
With a perfect elliptical structure, then, Enter Paradise for €3.20 opens with images of a chaotic city street, where traffic, pollution and noise of all kinds reign. But is paradise really so far away? Sometimes you just have to turn the corner to find yourself immersed in a totally different reality. This, for example, is the case of a small municipal swimming pool, where citizens usually gather for a few hours of well-deserved relax. Here, then, lies all freedom and, above all, the pleasure of finally being oneself.
Enter Paradise for €3.20 shows us, then, a series of characters, each of them barely sketched, but characterised just right in their (more or less) bizarre behaviour. Next to children who enjoy carrying their life jackets around the establishment, there are more or less corpulent ladies who do nothing more than consult magazines in search of some miracle diet. Reserved men devote themselves, at the same time, to reading stock market trends, while there are also those who, between one dive and another, try to fork – unsuccessfully – a gherkin inside a jar, under the amused eyes of two young bathers.
Edith Stauber, for her part, seems both amused and fond of these bizarre bathers. None of them is – so to speak – ‘perfect’, none of them is safe from the critical gaze of the camera (or, it would be better to say, in this case, the pen of the cartoonist). Yet, in just a few minutes, each of them is characterised to perfection in all their little quirks and human ‘weaknesses’. After all, what’s wrong with taking a little break from the chaos of the city from time to time?
Contributing to make Enter Paradise for €3.20 so magnetic and captivating are the strictly two-dimensional drawings, where the pen focuses on every single detail of the protagonists’ faces, accentuating their features in order to increase the deliberately grotesque effect. It is interesting to notice how each of the characters is treated in the same way as the other co-protagonists: when they let themselves go, when they are finally happy and carefree, there is no distinction between any of them. And alongside the bright colours of the backgrounds, the human figures remain strictly in black and white (except, of course, for their clothing).
There is no place for dialogue in Enter Paradise for €3.20. It is the noises, in this case, that are almost the absolute protagonists. And yet, despite the indistinct chattering, despite bouncing balloons and incessantly ringing mobile phones, there is also a certain quietness. Every noise, although distinct and ‘important’, seems to us, here, almost as if it were attenuated. And immediately, we are reminded of the cinema of Jacques Tati and his unquestionable basic grace that made each of his works unforgettably magnetic. The same applies to this short and precious Enter Paradies for €3.20: even today, a good twelve years after it was made, it still makes people talk about it and seems more topical than ever, but never predictable or banal.
Original title: Eintritt zum Paradies um 3€20
Directed by: Edith Stauber
Country/year: Austria / 2008
Running time: 13’
Screenplay: Edith Stauber
Cinematography: Edith Stauber
Produced by: Edith Stauber