Child explorers on the loose
The Ross children catch a young kangaroo in a scene that highlights both the wonder and the gestures of dominance crucial to the travelogue genre.
Shots of Ralph (age 5) and Renate Ross (age 14) interacting with foreign people, animals, and plants often work to scale down the moment of encounter. In this sequence, their hunt for and rather brutal capture of a young kangaroo transports the excitement of visitors getting close to Australian fauna, while their quarreling grounds the exhibition of animal life in familiar, all-too-human behavior.
This is one of several scenes featuring Ralph and/or Renate in Achtung Australien! Achtung Asien! (1930) in which ‘getting in touch with nature’ includes grabbing whatever they see. Their inclination to go from watching to touching, which seems occasioned as much by being in front of the camera as by curiosity, demonstrates in a highly compressed manner the intertwined relation between wonderment and possessiveness that has been central to the travelogue and its politics. In Renate’s grip, the kangaroo becomes just another plaything, like Ralph’s stuffed toy dog.
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; 0:12:47,22-0:13:51,21