When the travelogue boils over
Ross uses his family’s presence, sound, and suggestions of dramatic escalation to reinvigorate filmic travel reportage in 1930.
In this segment from Achtung Australien! Achtung Asien!, the Ross family is employed both as extras within the shots, to guarantee their presence at the sites and encourage size comparisons, and as characters within the editing, linking shots of bubbling geyser activity to the points of view Colin and his wife Lisa as they photograph and of daughter Renate and son Ralph as they explore this site. Consequently, it’s as much a family film as a view of wondrous thermal activity. Meanwhile, the symphonic score and ever louder hissing on the soundtrack suggest mounting danger, which pays off in the sequence’s final shot, where Colin, Renate, and Ralph Ross run away from an erupting geyser. This is one of only a few moments in the film where the soundtrack consists of three simultaneous elements: bubbles that sound as being made in a pot of water, steam that sounds like two people hissing, and recorded music. Given the technology for mixing at the time, it’s an astonishing feat.
Thanks to Craig Smith (CalArts).
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 2: 35mm | b&w | sound | 522m | 24 fps | 19’
Master: 0001-01-0926_Australien_ROSS_Colin_XY_Omnimago_2016_PR422HQ_2048x1768_PCM_24fps.mov; 0:26:07,13-0:28:10,17