Wednesday, 16 April 2014

15th April, 2014. Language and Film in Vienna.

A couple of boys sat down next to me on the bus from Bratislava to Vienna, chatting in a language I could not understand. I was at first grateful as I could read Anna Karenina without the cacophony of other words. Then I realised I could understand them. It was a heavily modified version of German. As someone who was hoping to practice her German in Austria, I started panicking that I was so rusty. Yet when I arrived and met my hosts I realised my German was fine. Those boys were speaking a very particular Austrian dialect.

My host was a couple by the name of Viktoria and Lucia. They live in a 19th century apartment with high ceilings, a winding staircase, decorated with 70s paraphernalia. Lucia is a games programmer who once tried to solo travel Europe but only made it to Switzerland. Viktoria is an organiser for a queer feminist magazine with a passion for all things philosophy and games.

They showed me their university which actually turned out to be a palace but that is of no surprise in Vienna. Every building is it's own wedding tart of a palace. Underneath one of them, next to the opera house, you can find a cafe decorated with posters of golden classics and the entrance to Vienna's film museum That night they were doing a special of two 1930s film. The first was a Ukrainian documentary, known by the name of Entuziazm (Simfonija Donbassa), set in the city of Don. Known for its facial closeups and repetitive machine movements, Viktoria called it 60 minutes of coal going one way, then coal going another way, then hay going up, then hay going down. The second film was the first acclaimed surrealist film by the name of L'Age d'Or. It had a line up consisting of Luis Buñuel, Salvador Dalí, Max Ernst, making it no wonder that the entire cinema was in crying laughter half of the time and laughing tears the rest.

After a few beers with a couple friends in another film-themed locale, German was the language that rang through our throats. The fears of that morning were gone and the girls joked I would end up talking to my old high school friends in Aachen in an Austrian accent. Either way, I was glad to be gearing up my German tongue after eight years of rust. It felt like coming home.

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