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WIEN – MARIAZELL UND ZURÜCK

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by Karl Köfinger

grade: 6.5

Suggestive landscapes, immense expanses of green and, last but not least, a vehicle full of tourists enjoying the panorama are, therefore, the absolute protagonists of this short and precious Wien – Mariazell und zurück, which, with a running time of about one and a half minutes, gives us a full idea of the beauty of the places we are visiting and all their many potentials.

Far from Vienna

Mariazell: one of the Austrians’ favourite tourist destinations, perfect for short trips out of town to relax and enjoy unspoilt nature. The small town of Mariazell has been the protagonist of numerous tourist documentaries over the years, testifying to the many potentialities that a country like Austria has to offer. Also part of this long series of documentaries is Wien – Mariazell und zurück, made in 1927 by director Karl Köfinger, who, in the course of his long and prolific career, made a series of tourist films – all of rather limited running time – on behalf of the Austrian Post Office.

During the making of these films, it often happened that the camera was placed on postal vehicles, used to transport copious groups of tourists around the country. This, then, is also the case with this Wien – Mariazell und zurück, recently re-presented to the audience by the Filmarchiv Austria as part of the retrospective Kino auf Sommerfrische.

Starting, therefore, from Vienna, our postal vehicle drives to Mariazell, passing through Annaberg and Josefsberg, before returning to Vienna at the end of the day, preferring the route through Halltal and Rohr.

Suggestive landscapes, immense expanses of green and, last but not least, a vehicle full of tourists enjoying the panorama are, therefore, the absolute protagonists of this short and precious Wien – Mariazell und zurück, which, with a running time of about one and a half minutes, gives us a full idea of the beauty of the places we are visiting and all their many potentials.

This documentary, therefore, fully conforms to the canons of the short tourist films made in Austria already in the first years after the birth of the cinematograph. And if, in this case, we find ourselves almost at the end of the silent era (in fact, The Jazz Singer, the first full-length sound film in film history, is from this same year), it is interesting to observe how a film like this has the most elementary directorial approach possible, devoid of any virtuosity or authorial ambition, even though Köfinger himself was usually accustomed to inserting a certain amount of irony into his works.

An excessively short running time? An overly elementary directorial approach? Undoubtedly. And yet, despite everything, one cannot fail to recognise in works such as this one an undoubted charm and a certain historical and artistic importance. Witnesses of a time when the seventh art had by then spread widely throughout the country, as well as evocative images of the everyday life of bygone days, when, perhaps, people appreciated even more simple things, such as a healthy day trip out of town.

Original title: Wien – Mariazell und zurück
Directed by: Karl Köfinger
Country/year: Austria / 1927
Running time: 1′
Genre: documentary
Screenplay: Karl Köfinger
Cinematography: Karl Köfinger
Produced by: Ing. Köfinger-Film

Info: the website of the Filmarchiv Austria