The travelogue as argumentation

In this rave review of Achtung Australien! Achtung Asien! Colin Ross’s analytic outlook is distinguished from the mass of travelogue filmmakers who merely hunt  for “pretty pictures” on a “random trip”.

Lotte Eisner was a critic for the trade publication Film-Kurier and would go on to become a renowned film historian after fleeing Nazism in 1933. She is among numerous German and Austrian reviewers who highlighted Ross’s use of the geopolitical contrast of Volk ohne Raum (people without space) and Raum ohne Volk that shaped the film into a novel contribution to travelogue filmmaking. Australia and Asia, Eisner notes, “are succinctly set against each other, becoming momentums of world politics.” Hence, she notes, “scenes gain significance: images of endless loneliness in the steppe behind the Blue Mountains contrast with the hurry-scurry of a river boat colony in China”. As far as it is possible within the format of popular-educational Kulturfilm, she sees Ross provide background information on national economics and international politics.

This is also a typical review in that Ross’s geopolitical premise is hardly ever contested in publications on both the right and left, demonstrating geopolitics’ widespread acceptance. Approvingly, Eisner spells out the ambiguity of the “Achtung” in the film’s title: it suggests a radio transmission, playing on the film’s ambitious soundtrack; it means respect for faraway continents as sites of new developments of global importance, and a warning of caution so as to not be taken by surprise by them.

Joachim Schätz

L. [Lotte] H. Eisner L [Lotte]. Achtung Australien! Achtung Asien. Film-Kurier Theater, Kunst, Varieté, Funk:  1930 Nov 15; 271.

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

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