Starring Appearance by the City
An unusual exhibition with representative excerpts from around 80 Austrian and international feature films. Containing images of the city that are unique
to each film, the show ranges from the silent movie period to the present day, from Erich von Stroheim or Willi Forst to Michael Haneke or Barbara Albert. Barely known movies are as equally represented as famous films that have provided images now embedded in the city’s collective memory.
Whether realistic or constructed, whether shot on location in the city or in the studio, images and motives of Vienna from the period concerned are
both established and contradicted, changes in the physical appearance of the city and its perception revealed.
The Myth of Vienna
Vienna long held an important place in the pecking order of world cinema, ranking alongside Paris, Berlin or New York. Imperial Vienna, waltzing bliss and petit-bourgeois idyll - all these stereotypes were exploited over many years for the creation of movie narratives, cosily nestled in the myth of Vienna
as the city of love and music. After 1945, in the midst of the unfolding Cold War, the divided, rubble-strewn city was recast as the location of gloomy spy thrillers. Since 1970, it has been mainly Austrian productions which refocus the city, sensitive to social fissures and no longer idealised.
Vienna now features as a disparate urban landscape. Where once the preferred backdrop was the inner city with its palaces and alleyways, now the city’s bleak outskirts serve as a topographical leitmotif.
Pace, Light, Scenery
Cinema utilises the city as a stage, drawing on modern urban attractions and effects: movements, reflections, furious tracking shots. In the early days
of motion pictures, cities were reconstructed in the studio. But likewise when filming took place outdoors, cinema was uninhibited in its use of
topography, with Vienna already serving as the setting for Moscow, Paris or Bratislava.
The Topography of Emotions Kahlenberg was the rendezvous point for lovers, the Danube Canal for
desperados, while the Prater served well for both. City images are also always images of a certain milieu, providing the framework for human destinies. The meaning of a place shifts, as does its emotional connotations.
And so a centenary of Vienna in Film amounts to a history of the Viennese mindset, too.
Added by film:riss on May 12, 2010