Abundant space = spare time

This sequence about Australian city life suggests that not only space is abundant on this continent, but time as well.

Postcard views of horse carriages and lush parks, front yards and funfair attractions present urban life in Australia as both modern and relaxed. This sequence from Achtung Australien! Achtung Asien (1930)  embodies Ross’s overarching argument in his book on Australia, Der unvollendete Kontinent (1930). For him, Australia with its rich natural resources and low population density serves as an experiment. It indicates what a modern European or American capitalist welfare state might look like in future decades.

This reasoning hinges on a translation of space into time: Australia represents future developments to Ross, because it is still relatively removed from the struggles for space and resources that, in his mind, Europe is subjected to—as is stressed by the animated map which shows the cities that appear as dots on a blank surface. The match cut from a phantom ride at an industrial site to a funfair train is one of the most playful touches in the entire film’s editing. It suggests the unusually generous balance between work and spare time that Ross also remarks upon in his writing elsewhere (See ‘Going native’ with the suburbanites).

(Archival note: in the complete version of Achtung Australien! Achtung Asien! the city tour, ending in Adelaide, and the subsequent sequence that begins with the shot of a train are separated by another sequence of 15 shots. This sequence, missing from the copy used for the video scan, details city and industrial work life some more.)

Joachim Schätz

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; 0:00:52,18-0:01:57,08

Clip: 0001-01-0926_Australien_ROSS_Colin_XY_Omnimago_2016_H264-12Mbits-KFauto-CABAC_1440x1080_24fps_IsFormatOf_ProRes422HQ_2048x1768_PCM_24fps_00005218-00012420.mp4

Topic: Volk ohne Raum
Case: Oceania-Asia trip 1928-30

Scroll to page top