Die Gstettensaga: The Rise of Echsenfriedl - Film Commentary

19 January 2020

In this post, I am going to comment on “Die Gstettensaga: The Rise of Echsenfriedl”. I will definitely steer away from any explicit spoilers and try my best to avoid any implicit ones. I want you to watch this. If your usual cup of tea is pop cinema, this would be an experience. It is an Austrian indie film. It is available on YouTube with subtitles which form an essential part of the story. Please do not ask me how I came about this.

This film has a gripping plot among its absurdist humour. Art, by its very nature, is finding and locking patterns in the randomness of the universe. It’s the same as when a sculptor reveals a sculpture in an arbitrarily shaped rock. There is plenty of critiques which I will not bother to repeat. In summary, it is a multi-layered dark humour sci-fi film. Let us jump to what I have to add.

While rewatching it for the fourth time recently, I came upon an intriguing feature of the film. It makes the audience feel the emotions that the protagonists are feeling. This is, of course, not the most obscure idea in filmmaking. It is, in fact, a basic tenet of performance; music, dance or drama. However, “Die Gstettensaga” draws this idea to its extremes. In the opening scene, the protagonists are waiting for their appointment in a large hall. They are impatient. The scene goes on for a total of 2 minutes where nothing happens. The audience is waiting too. They, too, are getting restless. Later on, when the protagonists encounter a language they do not comprehend, the subtitles vanish. There are many more such ideas throughout which I’ll leave you to discover for yourself.