A family outing, with snakes
The Ross family provided Colin Ross’s audiences with a quartet of familiar faces. In 1930, they even got to hear their voices.
As Achtung Australien! Achtung Asien! (1930) was shot without sound and later dubbed in Berlin, the four Rosses are the only ones who can be heard speaking in their own voices in the film. Intoxicated with this new possibility, Ross has his children Ralph and Renate holler even when they are only shown in a long shot running at the camera, their mouths not visible. Dispensing with subtitles in his first sound film brought out its discontinuities. The shots edited into a sequence of life at one the Ross’s camps, for example, actually collapses at least two camps they set up in the Northern Rivers region of New South Wales, christened the ‘snake camp’ and the ‘river ghost camp’. 1
The sequence shows both physical risk (the snakes, the taking of quinine) and the smaller burdens of camping (getting and cooking water, pitching a tent). More importantly, the sequence integrates those out-of-the-ordinary specifics with the portrait of a nuclear family that many viewers seem to have found relatable (see: “Master Ross” makes the news). Adventure is domesticated and associated with familial order. Ralph and Renate, first introduced running carefree through the bush, are both reprimanded by their mother and father, respectively, over the course of the sequence.
Colin Ross. Australien - Indien - Neuguinea - Neuseeland [archive title]
[Excerpt from] Colin Ross. Achtung Australien! Achtung Asien! Das Doppelgesicht des Ostens. Germany: Ufa/Ullstein; 1930.
reel 1: 35mm | b&w | sound | 409m | 24 fps | 15’
Master: 0001-01-0926_Australien_ROSS_Colin_XY_Omnimago_2016_PR422HQ_2048x1768_PCM_24fps.mov; 0:07:44,19-0:08:48,21