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by Peter Patzak

grade: 7

Die Weltmaschine is a true hymn to life, freedom and art in all its forms. Erni Mangold proved to be the perfect protagonist, one could even say that the leading role was written with her in mind. One of the first films in which Christoph Waltz took part.

New life, new perspectives

When a film like Die Weltmaschine, directed by Peter Patzak in 1981, is mentioned, people usually think of one of the first roles played by the now world-famous Christoph Waltz. Actually, the actor only plays a small role in the feature film, while ample space is dedicated to the great Erni Mangold. Erni Mangold is the intense and passionate protagonist of this little TV film, which, in turn, features a welcome touch of fantasy along with a personal drama, masterfully depicted on screen by the versatile talent of Peter Patzak.

Erni Mangold plays Annaliese, the widow of a painter, who for years has simply painted the backgrounds for her husband’s works. Determined to return to the village where she grew up, she discovers that a mysteriously disappeared inventor has built there a bizarre ‘world machine’, which no longer seems to work, but which is activated only by Annaliese’s presence. The woman discovers that the spirit of the inventor lives inside the machine and, since it might soon be sold and destroyed, she will do everything she can to get money to prevent the sale.

Die Weltmaschine is a true hymn to life, freedom and art in all its forms. Annaliese, after the death of her husband, refuses to move to her daughter’s and chooses to return ‘where she had once been happy’. A new, unexpected mission leads her to travel far and discover a talent she had always ignored. While her family thinks that by now life has nothing more to offer her, Annaliese rebels, chooses a new path, discovers herself incredibly young and, at the same time, finally discovers her true nature.

Erni Mangold proved to be the perfect protagonist, one could even say that the leading role was written with her in mind. Peter Patzak, for his part, emphasised her character and gave her a special aura of magic. Die Weltmaschine is in fact an apparently simple film that actually unfolds on several levels. On the one hand we have the simple everyday life of the protagonist, on the other a new, mysterious dimension in which the inventor of the machine now lives. And while the Styrian countryside initially seems to be the only place where Annaliese could live, the United States turns out to be a world where everything is possible, where dreams can finally come true, where young painters (our Christoph Waltz, in fact) always know how to give excellent indications, and where enthralling eighties music contributes to making us fully enjoy that wonderful sense of freedom.

Versatile, multifaceted, perfectly able to relate to any film genre – even making interesting experimental films – Peter Patzak has given us a little gem of New Austrian Cinema. A light and introspective film that does not suffer from the purely TV nature, which draws heavily from numerous genres and movements, but which stands out above all for its own, marked personality.

Original title: Die Weltmaschine
Directed by: Peter Patzak
Country/year: Austria / 1981
Running time: 95’
Genre: drama
Cast: Erni Mangold, Ludwig Thiesen, Maria Bill, Carlo Böhm, Nelli Flo, Eduard Eibl, Rene Felden, Rainer Finke, Franz Gsellmann, Heinz Hartwig, Josefine Hawelka, Marcel Hillinger, Karl Höfler, Christoph Waltz, Harald Hirnberger, Christine Jirku, Hans Kraemmer, Marie Therese Kranzler, Peter Neubauer, Georg Tichy, Gerhard Swoboda, Manfred Schmid, Martin Suppan, Peter Patzak
Screenplay: Christine Nöstlinger
Cinematography: Heinz Hölscher
Produced by: Fernsehfilmproduktion Dr. Heinz Schneiderbauer

Info: the page of Die Weltmaschine on iMDb; the page of Die Weltmaschine on the website of the Filmarchiv Austria