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MOUNTAIN TRIP

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by Siegfried A. Fruhauf

grade: 8.5

Mountain Trip is a little, refined miriorama through which the director wanted to show us the essence of Austria according to numerous clichés spread all over the world. On the postcards, each time, we can recognise mountains, small houses, church steeples that stand out above everything, but also large green meadows and lakes. And so, many postcards make up one endless landscape.

The story of Austria

Austrian landscapes. How often does it happen in films, on television or even during a train journey to admire the picturesque mountains, big lakes and small, picturesque villages that enrich a nation rich in history and natural beauty like Austria? Nowadays, it is not customary to send postcards any more. Yet such objects have maintained their charm over the years, often even becoming collectors’ items. When in 1999 the filmmaker Siegfried A. Fruhauf made his experimental short film Mountain Trip (which has since become a real highlight of Austrian avant-garde cinema), however, postcards were still sent out copiously. Yet, as the director taught us, given the beauty of the landscapes depicted, there were many uses for them.

In Mountain Trip, therefore, we see in the foreground a series of postcards, depicting, precisely, Austrian landscapes, placed side by side in two rows. The postcards in the top row are upside down. The skies touch until they become one. Mountains, roads and even the shores of lakes come together. So many postcards form one endless landscape. The camera, meanwhile, shows us all these images in succession through a single tracking shot, now speeding up, now slowing down and adapting to the rhythm of traditional Austrian music by Rainer Gamsjäger.

Mountain Trip is a little, refined miriorama through which the director wanted to show us the essence of Austria according to numerous clichés from all over the world. And it is precisely on clichés that this interesting short film is primarily based. On the postcards, each time, we can recognise mountains, small houses, church steeples that stand out above everything, but also large green meadows and lakes. Then, slowly, the camera – along with the music – begins to speed up. For the viewer, it becomes practically impossible to distinguish the details of the images. And so Mountain Trip immediately takes on abstract connotations, turning out to be a true visual and auditory experience.

We cannot fail to notice, while watching Mountain Trip, however, a subtle criticism on the part of the director against not only the numerous clichés about Austria, but also – and above all – against the image of itself that Austria has always wanted to convey abroad. A criticism, this one, that has also been voiced over the years by numerous other exponents of the film, theatre and literature fields. A criticism that, however, in Mountain Trip focuses on aesthetics and visual suggestions, concentrating mainly on what the viewer can experience during the screening. And in the darkness of a theatre, such colourful images take on even more precious connotations.

Original title: Höhenrausch
Directed by: Siegffried A. Fruhauf
Country/year: Austria / 1999
Running time: 4’
Genre: experimental
Screenplay: Siegfried A. Fruhauf
Cinematography: Siegfried A. Fruhauf
Produced by: Siegfried A. Fruhauf

Info: the page of Mountain Trip on iMDb; the page of Mountain Trip on the website of the sixpackfilm