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VON SALZBURG ÜBER ST. GILGEN, MONDSEE UND BAD AUSSEE

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by Karl Köfinger

grade: 7

Von Salzburg über St. Gilgen, Mondsee und Bad Aussee is a precious document, an undoubtedly valuable work, which spans the two great epochs of cinema: the silent era and the sound era.

Traditions and nature

Between the end of the 1920s and the early 1930s, director Karl Köfinger was one of the leading names in Austrian documentary film production. Particularly noteworthy within his filmography is the series of documentaries made for the Austrian Post Office, designed to highlight the historical, artistic and natural beauty of the entire nation. Of these short documentaries – almost all of which were made after placing the camera on a postal vehicle – particularly interesting is Von Salzburg über St. Gilgen, Mondsee und Bad Aussee, made in 1929 and recently re-presented to the audience by the Filmarchiv Austria on the occasion of the online retrospective Kino auf Sommerfrische.

A cheerful group of tourists is about to set off on a trip through the most beautiful lakes in the Salzburger Land. Karl Köfinger’s camera is ready to film everything. And so, on a hot summer’s day, numerous stops are made: from the Fuschlsee lake to the picturesque town of St. Gilgen, from the Mondsee lake (with its typical market) to the small town Bad Ischl (once the summer residence of the imperial family), and finally to the steep Pötschen pass – once feared precisely because of its unsafe road.

Thanks to a series of short explanatory captions, the director accompanies us step by step through this exciting journey, focusing his attention now on the landscapes and the roads he travels along, and now on the local inhabitants themselves, who are extraordinarily calmly going about their daily business, but who do not fail, from time to time, to glance at the camera.

Typical in this Von Salzburg über St. Gilgen, Mondsee und Bad Aussee, as in almost all films made by Karl Köfinger, is a certain irony and self-irony. Everything, here, is staged in a rather playful way, despite having to follow certain guidelines as far as the staging itself is concerned.

From a directorial point of view, Von Salzburg über St. Gilgen, Mondsee und Bad Aussee does not stand out for particular virtuosity. Yet, following Köfinger’s filmography, we cannot fail to notice how the director’s approach evolved over the years, often even daring unusual shots for the time and gradually becoming more and more subjective.

For this reason, then, Von Salzburg über St. Gilgen, Mondsee und Bad Aussee stands today as a highly precious document, as well as an undoubtedly valuable work, that perfectly straddles the two great epochs of cinema: the silent era and the sound era. And even if, in the rest of the world, sounds were now increasingly in synchrony with the images, this does not change the fascination that a documentary like this exerts on us, even many decades after it was made.

Original title: Von Salzburg über St. Gilgen, Mondsee und Bad Aussee
Directed by: Karl Köfinger
Country/year: Austria / 1929
Running time: 8’
Genre: documentary
Screenplay: Karl Köfinger
Cinematography: Karl Köfinger
Produced by: Ing. Köfinger-Film

Info: the website of the Filmarchiv Austria