More Svankmajer, more Snow 28/40

March 20, 2007 at 7:21 am | Posted in Alps, Film | 2 Comments
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I took out another Svankmajer movie, this time real, um, Fetish stuff. Spiklenciu slasti (1996), or: Conspirators of Pleasure. Although not the types of fetishes that you’d expect in fetish movie. No S/M, no bodily fluids, no intercourse. No dialog either, which is probably the most remarkable part of it. There is not point in me giving you a plot synopsis, but I’d like to mention some plot landmarks: The killing of a chicken, the reconstruction of a chicken mask from porn magazines and feathers, the theft of fox fur, physical treatment with a rolling pin, television, carp fish, bread crumbs and breathing techniques. Some scenes are very Cronenbergian, in particular the television plot line which is often reminiscent of Videodrome (1983).

And as is typical for Svankmajer, it also has some really cool animation stuff in it, for instance stop and go motion with live characters who seem to be sliding across the floor. I like that a lot. The only thing that began to irritate me a wee bit was the excessive use of designed sound. For instance, the modeling of a chicken head from clay is made to sound like a jurassic monster rising from the swamp. Not everybody’s cup of tea. But it’s still refreshing to see a bit of formerly Eastern European cinema (can one say that the Czech Republic has meanwhile arrived in the West?), which has a a refreshingly un-exhausted imagery to offer to the Western eye. Some screenshots:

Conspirators of Pleasure

Conspirators of Pleasure

Conspirators of Pleasure

Turning to the weather department: Two weeks ago I had proclaimed the arrival of spring in the far West of Austria. How wrong I was! The snow we’ve been missing for most of the winter has now come down on us. The windows of my attic flat are completely snowed in, and snow keeps falling. And that two days before the official 1st day of spring! Astronomically, spring begins on the 19th to 22nd of March, with the spring equinox (Tagundnachtgleiche in German): that’s when the sun aligns with the equator and day and night are of the same length (the day during equinox is actually 14 minutes longer, Wikipedia tells me). This year, 2007, spring will begin on the 21st of March, 7 minutes past midnight (Coordinated Universal Time, 1:07 Central European Time). If the weather stays like this until and into the weekend, I’ll finally get on the train to see the Arlberg, considering that I live ‘vor’m Arlberg’ (in front of the Arlberg). And I doubt that I’ll ever live this close to the Arlberg again.

Here’s a shot taken from my French Balcony. Freshest finest snow! What I liked to do in the past was to fetch some snow, directly and fresh from the roof, put it in a bowl and top it with some fruit syrup – and there goes your fruit sorbet. But I won’t break Lent just for a bit of sweetened snow! Although last night, in my dream, I did it again: I secretly ate chocolate, deciding that one didn’t count:-x


No Snow in the Alps

January 3, 2007 at 12:16 pm | Posted in Alps, Global Warming | 4 Comments
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EDIT (Jan 14): Skiing is now possible in the higher regions, but what you won’t get is a snowy winter wonderland wherever you go. Here is a link to a current snow report for Vorarlberg (West of Austria, on the border to Switzerland and Germany).

Vorarlberg in Austria

Although living in the alleged winter wonderland of Austria, there is hardly any snow around this year. Looking out of the window of my office, I can see some on the highest mountain tops, but those are already in Switzerland. Admittedly, you’d have to go a bit further up the province to find the ski resorts Vorarlberg is famous for.

I cannot ski, never have been able to, nor do I want to really, so I cannot be bothered. Snowmaking machines are an incredible waste of energy, but the only way to satisfy those nasty tourists excessive expectations at the moment. Only 30 centimeters of snow even in the higher skiable regions at the moment! Imagine global warming becoming worse over the next years (which it undoubtedly will). Let’s just hope people are sensible enought to stop the nonsense of creating artificial snowscapes in time. Of course they won’t be. The link people have established between the terms ‘snowscape’ and ‘Austria’ is just all too pervasive.

Here are a few pics my brother has sent me. He lives in the Northern most part of Hesse (Hessen in Germany) which is sometimes dubbed Hessian Siberia. Siberia or not: no snow this year.

N.B.: These pictures show a part of Germany, not of Austria




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