Speculations beyond the film

This short note in the first German-language magazine specialized in film and film theoretical debates is an early (and vague) reflection on Ross vs. the idealized figure of a ‘pure’ travelogue filmmaker.

This referenced, short notice in Der Kinematograph1  is a singular finding at this stage of Ross’s film career. And although for that reason one should take heed not to draw general conclusions, it is tempting to see its cautiously critical note, viz. the variety of Ross’s activities while en route, as a sign of appropriation by the film trade press, saying as it were, “Stick to filming.”2 Still, the critical note may well have been implicit in the reviews of Ross’s first film, Der Weg nach Osten (The road to the east).3 They were more appreciative of its ethnographic images and journalistic perspective than of Ross’s thoughts on Germany’s economic and industrial opportunities in eastern Europe, which he had addressed in a number of articles, lectures, and to a certain extent in the eponymous book (although in a less distinct political framework than in his travel account of South America.)4 The author must have been familiar with Ross’s survey of options for developing German settlements and colonies in California, as he politely warned against exploiting traveling and filming for other purposes such as, presumably, colonial propaganda.

Katalin Teller

Anonymous. Für wen reist Colin Roß? Der Kinematograph. Nr. 891. 1924 Mar 16; 30.

Topic: Colonialism
Case: Speaking engagements


1 For the magazine’s early history in a film-theoretical context see Helmut H. Diederichs. Frühgeschichte deutscher Filmtheorie. Ihre Entstehung und Entwicklung bis zum Ersten Weltkrieg. Habil.-Schrift. Frankfurt am Main 2001 [1996], http://publikationen.ub.uni-frankfurt.de/oai/container/index/docId/10701 [accessed Feb 13, 2017].

2 For contemporaneous discussions on the role in popular education of the Kulturfilm (culture film, educational film), see E[dgar] Beyfuss and A[rthur] Kossowsky, editors. Das Kulturfilmbuch. Berlin: Chryselius; 1924.

3 This is a shorter version of Zentralasiatische Reise von Colin Roß (Colin Roß’s Central Asian journey); its title was probably changed to draw attention to Ross’s travel book Der Weg nach Osten.

4 See Katalin Teller. Der Weltreisende Colin Roß vor deutschem und österreichischem Publikum. Frankfurt am Main et al.: Peter Lang; 2017; 40-41 (Zoom).

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