GRAZ – MARIAZELL – ADMONT

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by Karl Köfinger

grade: 7.5

Already from the first frames, we notice how a certain irony is a real constant within Graz – Mariazell – Admont. And director Karl Köfinger, for his part, used to give all his works a mostly light and humorous touch.

Travelling through Styria

A very special documentary, this Graz – Mariazell – Admont. If, in fact, we think of all the numerous tourist films made from the origins of cinema up to the 1930s (or, at least, until the much-controversial advent of sound cinema), we notice how they are mostly characterised by a rather elementary directorial approach, in which the director rarely dared to attempt new paths and new ways of moving the camera.

The same applies, for example, to most of the films made by Karl Köfinger (author also of this Graz – Mariazell – Admont) in the 1920s. With a series of tourist documentaries, all of rather limited running time, made on behalf of the Austrian postal service, Köfinger showed us the beauties of the Austrian territory, most often placing the camera on a postal vehicle used to transport groups of tourists around the country.

And this, therefore, is also the case with Graz – Mariazell – Admont – running just three minutes – in which, starting from the capital of Styria, one arrives at the destination of the famous tourist town of Mariazell, passing through numerous villages or even in the midst of the most unspoilt nature. Locals waving at tourist vehicles or sometimes giving road information become, here, almost a constant, along with funny close-ups of the vehicles themselves suddenly braking and almost colliding with the camera itself.

And so, already from the first frames, we notice how a certain irony is a real constant within this Graz – Mariazell – Admont. And Karl Köfinger himself used to give all his works a mostly light and humorous touch. In this documentary, however, it is interesting to notice how it is the characters themselves that are placed in the foreground just like the places shown. All this makes for a decidedly unusual directorial approach for short, tourist-oriented films. Unusual, yes, but also, in this case, particularly appropriate and certainly impressive.

In just three minutes, then, we can get an idea of what Styria has to offer us. And, in fact, the running time of these short documentaries produced since the early years of cinema was always rather limited. And yet, with essential direction and meaningful captions, they got straight to the point and managed perfectly to communicate what was initially intended. And, despite obvious directorial naivety, despite a somewhat too elementary approach, these short films stand today as a precious artistic heritage, witnessing an era immediately preceding one of the most important and controversial stages in film history: the transition from silent to sound films.

Original title: Graz – Mariazell – Admont
Directed by: Karl Köfinger
Country/year: Austria / 1927
Running time: 3’
Genre: documentary
Screenplay: Karl Köfinger
Cinematography: Karl Köfinger
Produced by: Ing. Köfinger-Film

Info: the website of the Filmarchiv Austria