ILLUZION CINEMA
FILM CAPITAL:
VIENNA
THE PROGRAM WAS MADE IN PARTNERSHIP WITH THE AUSTRIAN CULTURAL FORUM. GOSFILMOFOND WOULD LIKE TO SINCERELY THANK OUR COLLEAGUES FOR THEIR HELP AND PARTICIPATION

In Europe after the First World War, there was a sense of the end of times. The category of the future seemed to have ceased to exist. The era between the two wars was perceived not as a time of peace, but as a time of ceasefire. "With what merciful suddenness the last war broke out when compared with the painful approach of the one that is inevitably coming now!" (Khafner S. Istoriia odnogo nemtsa [The Story of a German]. SPb.: Ivan Limbakh. 2020. S. 13).
Cinema reflected a painful foreboding, and at the same time prepareed the way for escape into an abstract illusion.
The golden age of Austrian cinema falls on a short period of 1933-38: between the arrival of sound and the annexation of Austria. Cinema offers to look for one’s identity in the past. A new genre is born in Austria – “Wiener film”, a “Viennese film”.
The plots of these pictures develop in Vienna in the period between the Vienna Congress and the shots fired in Sarajevo. The action is often centered around a ball, an ideal life appears on the screen, opposed to real life. This is la Belle epoque, a time when even wars were courteous. This is a utopia in which nothing threatens the empire’s capital, it is "forever until it is no more". Vienna, frozen in the fin du siècle is a "great illusion" of Western interbellum cinema.
In the midst of dreams, there is hope for the creation of "Hollywood on the Danube" (this is the title of the book by Austrian film historians Franz Antel and Christian Winkler). When the real Vienna loses its pre-war status as the capital of Europe, the on-screen Vienna becomes the promised land of European culture. In this lies its similarity to Hollywood, which has long preserved the myth of the American South, also irretrievably lost. And Vienna really looks like Hollywood. It serves as a staging post for many European immigrants traveling to the United States. Some of them are delayed because non-Aryans are still allowed to work here.
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Under the conditions of Austrofascism, Austrian cinema manages not to touch upon questions of ideology. Géza von Bolváry, a Budapest native who made films all over Europe, puts on brilliant revues that distract from oppressive thoughts. Willi Forst, the father of the “Wiener film”, makes films during the war that seek to reconcile the extremes of modern life. Walter Reisch raises questions that are relevant to Austria, which survived the war and the subsequent inflation. Carmine Gallone shows backstreet Vienna with its unsightly outskirts and poor neighborhoods but singing despite everything.
Films about Vienna will be filmed all over the world. One day the German Ernst Lubitsch will joke that he would prefer the Paris of Paramount to the French one. And following Stroheim, for “The Smiling Lieutenant” (1931), Lubitsch will build Viennese streets in a studio that has welcomed a whole generation of European immigrants. Anatol Litvak, also not a Viennese, builds Vienna at a studio in Joinville. Max Ophüls, who has not made a single film in Vienna, but seems to know everything about it, will show the capital of the empire as the last refuge for all the beauty of the pre-war world.
The interbellum era will become a kind of farewell to the old world, where "...charm, elegance, tenderness, and gallantry still meant something" (Steiner G. Film Book Austria. Vienna: Federal Press Service. 1977. P. 35). It will take two decades of the truce to accept the fact that the pre-war world cannot be brought back. After the Second World War, not even the slightest illusion will remain. "Wiener films" will continue to be made for some time in the second half of the 1940s and even in the early 1950s. They will try to renew historical plots about the beautiful 19thcentury, still opulent sets and magnificent costumes with color. But Agfacolor will become a make-up for a dead idea. And finally, they will have to accept the thought formulated back in 1930 by Ortega y Gasset: "We feel that we actual men have suddenly been left alone on the earth; that the dead did not die in appearance only but effectively; that they can no longer help us." (Ortega i Gasset Kh. Degumanizatsiia iskusstva [The dehumanization of art]. M.: AST, 2005. S. 211).

Viktoria Elizarova
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Under the conditions of Austrofascism, Austrian cinema manages not to touch upon questions of ideology. Géza von Bolváry, a Budapest native who made films all over Europe, puts on brilliant revues that distract from oppressive thoughts. Willi Forst, the father of the “Wiener film”, makes films during the war that seek to reconcile the extremes of modern life. Walter Reisch raises questions that are relevant to Austria, which survived the war and the subsequent inflation. Carmine Gallone shows backstreet Vienna with its unsightly outskirts and poor neighborhoods but singing despite everything.
Films about Vienna will be filmed all over the world. One day the German Ernst Lubitsch will joke that he would prefer the Paris of Paramount to the French one. And following Stroheim, for “The Smiling Lieutenant” (1931), Lubitsch will build Viennese streets in a studio that has welcomed a whole generation of European immigrants. Anatol Litvak, also not a Viennese, builds Vienna at a studio in Joinville. Max Ophüls, who has not made a single film in Vienna, but seems to know everything about it, will show the capital of the empire as the last refuge for all the beauty of the pre-war world.
The interbellum era will become a kind of farewell to the old world, where "...charm, elegance, tenderness, and gallantry still meant something" (Steiner G. Film Book Austria. Vienna: Federal Press Service. 1977. P. 35). It will take two decades of the truce to accept the fact that the pre-war world cannot be brought back. After the Second World War, not even the slightest illusion will remain. "Wiener films" will continue to be made for some time in the second half of the 1940s and even in the early 1950s. They will try to renew historical plots about the beautiful 19thcentury, still opulent sets and magnificent costumes with color. But Agfacolor will become a make-up for a dead idea. And finally, they will have to accept the thought formulated back in 1930 by Ortega y Gasset: "We feel that we actual men have suddenly been left alone on the earth; that the dead did not die in appearance only but effectively; that they can no longer help us." (Ortega i Gasset Kh. Degumanizatsiia iskusstva [The dehumanization of art]. M.: AST, 2005. S. 211).

Viktoria Elizarova
USA, Paramount Pictures
1928, 108 minutes
Austria, Deutsche Forst-Film-Produktion, Wien-Film
1942, 108 minutes
France, B.U.P. Française
1940, 95 minutes
Austria, Gloria-Film, Horus-Film
1936, 90 minutes
Germany, Elite Tonfilm-Produktion GmbH
1933, 85 minutes
Austria, Rex-Film
1936, 101 minutes
Austria, Gloria-Film
1937, 72 minutes
Austria, Volkslesehalle Filmabteilung
1930, 50 minutes
France, Pathé
1913, 10 minutes
Austria, Wiener Kunstfilm
year unknown, 3 minutes
France, Pathé
1912 (?), 12 minutes
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