To really appreciate this film and the political satire behind it, one
has to know some of the historical facts:
Along with Germany, Austria has been defeated in the Second World War,
and even though Germany was the driving force behind the war, Austria's
role in the war was less than flattering at least from the point on when
the Austrians happily welcomed the Germans into their country to take it
over ... and then one mustn#t forget, Hitler, even though he rose to power
in Germany, was an Austrian by birth.
After the war followed the period of occupation, when Russia, the USA,
Great Britain and France each controlled a sector of the country, and the
four occupation forces shared Austria's capital Vienna among them. The
occupation lasted until 1955, by the way ...
So much for the historical facts, this film though, made in 1952 and
thus well before the end of the occupation, posed the question "what
if Austria was still occupied in 2000 ?"
On April 1st,t he newly elected Prime Minister (Josef Meinrad) of
Austria declares Austria independent and wants to throw the occupying
forces out of the country, but in a peaceful way. The Global Union (a sort
of UNO) however takes the actions of Austria as an act of war and soon
enough the President of the Global Union (Hilde Krahl) comes to Austria
via a weirdlooking UFO and accompanied by soldiers in even weirder looking
uniforms carrying rayguns (this is the future you know), to put the Prime
Minister and all of Austria on trial ... but the Prime Minister has taken
this into consideration and has prepared a line of defense in which actors
portray the greatest and most peaceful events of Austrian history, in
which the citizen's of Austria demonstrate their peace-loving qualities in
peaceful protest marches, and in which the woman President of the Global
Union are to be won over by Viennese charm, Austrian operetta music and Wiener
Gemütlichkeit (= Viennese comfortableness) complete with Spritzer
... and gradually, the President of the Global Union gives in not only to
the Prime Minister's arguments but also his charms, and in the end, she
herself declares Austria liberated ... just before one of her councilmen
(Robert Michal, not very convincing as a Chinaman) finds a document that
rules the occupation unlawful to begin with ...
Now this would sound like fun, a satire about the peaceful resistance
against the occupation, made during the occupation. Unfortunately the film
as such is rather a disappointment, much more effort is put into creating
one clichéd and cheesy scene after the next than in actually making a
political statement, and so the finished film looks less like a satire and
more like an overlong advertisment for tourism in Austria, since the film
really throws everything Austria has got at the audience, its
favourite tourist spots, Austrian music from Mozart to light operetta and Heurigen
Musik (songs sung in specifically Austrian versions of winebars),
Austria's aristocrats from the past, its favourite boys choir the Wiener
Sängerknaben and its famed trained palominos the Lippizaner,
... in fact, the film is so over-kitsched it totally loses its political
impact on even the most attentive audience - which is a bit of a shame.
By the way, the film was (reportedly) released in the USA in a recut version in
which the Global Union becomes a race of extraterrestrials ... oh well.