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by Johann Schwarzer

grade: 6.5

Ironic, funny, pleasantly light-hearted, An Exciting Hunt manages to make even the most demanding viewer smile, and with its malice and directorial naivety gives us just under five minutes of light-heartedness.

Misadventures at the lake

One of the most important pioneers of Austrian cinema, director and photographer Johann Schwarzer. Thanks to him (and his Saturn-Film), films were in fact produced and directed in Austria for the first time, albeit a few years later than in the rest of the world. Yet, despite this, very few people today remember his name. The reason is quickly explained: the films made by Johann Schwarzer were, in fact, short erotic films, which, despite their light and ironic character, were not well regarded by authorities or society. This was also the case with the short film An exciting Hunt, made by Schwarzer in 1906, the year Saturn-Film was founded.

The story staged in An exciting Hunt, therefore, is very simple, just like every other short film by the director. Two women sit by a lake. One of them, suddenly left alone, decides to undress and take a bath. As the other woman returns to the lake and, urged on by her husband, picks up her clothes on the ground and takes them away, our protagonist does not know what to do and starts running through the woods. A group of people, seeing her running and unaware of what is going on, decide to run after her in turn. How will the woman manage to ‘save herself’?

A few, simple shots are enough to stage everything. Few, slight camera movements lend dynamism to the numerous fixed shots, in which we do not even see a close-up. Johann Schwarzer’s directorial approach is rather rudimentary and seems almost anachronistic, when one considers that in the meantime, in the rest of the world, much progress had been made with regard to filmmaking itself. Yet, despite this, An Exciting Hunt works. Ironic, funny, pleasantly playful, the film manages to make even the most demanding viewer smile and with its malice and directorial naivety gives us just under five minutes of light-heartedness.

With the exception of a few short films shot mainly in Vienna by cameramen working for production companies mainly from France, no films had yet been produced in Austria before 1906. An Exciting Hunt is therefore one of the first attempts in Austria at this new art form and one of the few films by Schwarzer that have come down to us today.

Yes, because, in fact, after the director had to close down the Saturn-Film in 1911, all his films were confiscated and many were even destroyed. Only a few years ago, however, some of the films were rediscovered and subsequently restored by the Filmarchiv Austria, which now holds the rights. The name of Johann Schwarzer has thus not been completely forgotten. Austria can still see what one of the pioneers of its cinema made in his time.

Original title: Eine aufregende Jagd
Directed by: Johann Schwarzer
Country/year: Austria / 1906
Running time: 5’
Genre: comedy, erotic
Screenplay: Johann Schwarzer
Cinematography: Johann Schwarzer
Produced by: Saturn-Film

Info: the page of An exciting Hunt on iMDb; the website of the Filmarchiv Austria