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EINE FAHRT DURCHS ÖTZTAL

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by Karl Köfinger

grade: 7

In Eine Fahrt durchs Ötztal we can notice, in addition to the picturesque landscapes and villages visited, a special focus on the people encountered and the tourists themselves, further enhanced by important close-ups or shots in which we can see them intent on their activities.

Discovering Tyrol

Among the almost completely forgotten pioneers of Austrian cinema, we cannot fail to include the name of Viennese Karl Köfinger. In fact, working mainly between the 1920s and 1930s, he dedicated his entire career to the production of special tourist documentaries, also intended for distribution abroad. These include Eine Fahrt durchs Ötztal – made in 1930 and recently re-presented to the audience by the Filmarchiv Austria, on the occasion of the online retrospective Kino auf Sommerfrische.

Eine Fahrt durchs Ötztal, therefore, is part of the documentary series entitled Mit dem Postkraftwagen durch Österreichs Alpenwelt, made by Köfinger on behalf of the Austrian Post Office and aimed at documenting short journeys within the different federal states of Austria on board special postal vehicles. And it was precisely on these vehicles that the camera was placed during the long trips across the Alps. A practice that was quite widespread at the time. Just think of the much better known documentary Österreichische Alpenbahnen. Eine Fahrt nach Mariazell (1910), where the camera was even placed on a locomotive.

Also in Eine Fahrt durchs Ötztal, therefore, we see a group of tourists departing from the charming city of Innsbruck and arriving at the Ötztal station in order to meet up with another group of tourists and proceed in the direction of all the villages in the beautiful Tyrolean valley.

In his documentaries, Karl Köfinger, despite the need to keep himself as ‘objective’ as possible and despite an overall rudimentary directorial approach lacking in virtuosity, never failed to add his own personal touch, be it a touch of irony or a particular focus on the inhabitants of the places visited, on their faces and gestures. And so, even in this short and precious Eine Fahrt durchs Ötztal, made in 1931 and running only eleven minutes, we notice this usual approach of the pioneer of Austrian cinema. In addition to the evocative landscapes and villages visited, we can also notice a special focus on the people encountered and the tourists themselves, further enhanced by important close-ups or shots in which we can see them intent on their activities.

Not just documentary cinema, then, but above all pure cinema, showing us the beauty of Austria and how it is experienced by those who have the privilege of observing it every day. This was Karl Köfinger’s cinema. And the fact that, today, only a few people remember him and his works does him absolutely no justice. Eine Fahrt durchs Ötztal, therefore, is one of the many chapters he dedicated to exploring his country. A precious document of an era in which the importance and numerous potentialities of this new invention called cinema were increasingly understood.

Original title: Eine Fahrt durchs Ötztal
Directed by: Karl Köfinger
Country/year: Austria / 1931
Running time: 11’
Genre: documentary
Screenplay: Karl Köfinger
Cinematography: Karl Köfinger
Produced by: Ing. Köfinger-Film

Info: the website of the Filmarchiv Austria