by Mazzino Montinari
30/06/2003 - Am Anfang war der Blick, by Austrian-Luxembourg filmmaker, Bady Minck is an interesting medium-length feature about the history of Austria during the 19th century. Minck’s original use of animation allows the director to portray history through the eyes of a collector of antique postcards. The film is a painstaking observation of the people and especially the painful events that most Austrians would prefer to forget. Bady Minck came to Pesaro to present this film.
Why did you decide to use postcards to tell the history of Austria?
“The original idea was to show the ways in which behaviour and habits have changed, as well as the political changes that took place in the 19th century. The postcards reveal the collective imagination. I think this is a very interesting starting point because the postcards contain both words and pictures. Also, when I found them in a number of antique shops, I came across an ambiguous contradiction: on the one side, you admire the reassuring and pretty pictures, but when you turn the card over, you read dramatic messages that contrast with the beautiful scenery on the other side. So, one object allowed me to see the contrast between fact and fiction, between an artificial illusion and everyday life.”
Your film is about one very painful and delicate part of Austrian history: Nazism.
“I am from Luxembourg, and as such, I am an outsider looking in. I investigated the issue of Nazism trying to highlight most Austrian’s desire to remove past events from memory. Most Austrians feel they were victims of a foreign occupation and don’t even want to think about there having been political complicity with the Germans. It is important to know that the idea behind this film was not to engender a serious and deep analysis and I am not here pointing fingers or making accusations.”
Given the nature of the issues portrayed in this film, did you encounter any problems with producing and distributing it?
“Austrian television contributed to the production but the initial screenplay that I presented and which was approved by the producers is different from the final version. I added postcards and images that help one to understand the active participation and involvement of the Austrian people with the Nazi movement. For example, there is a postcard from 1932 that mentions a glorious future thanks to Hitler’s imminent arrival on the scene. In apparently innocent times, images that were illegal and censored circulated freely. Something was already on the move well before Hitler became the Chancellor. I also added postcards that remind us of places where those who were deported to concentration camps were forced to work as slave labour. I really cannot say how Austrian television will react to this. There could well be some problems, especially since the executives tend to hold reactionary political views.”