Mat' [Austrian Release Trailer] (1927)

Mat' [Austrian Release Trailer] (1927)

Production Company: Ottol-Film, Vienna; Distributor: Newa-Film, Vienna. 35mm, b&w, silent, 32m, ca. 2 min (20 fps)


The following text was first published in the accompanying catalog to the 32nd edition of the Giornate del Cinema Muto, Pordenone (Italy), October 5-12, 2013

Pudovkin's Mat' (Mother) opened simultaneously in no fewer than 14 leading Viennese cinemas on 18 November 1927. Its release coincided with a popularity boom experienced by Soviet films in Austria in the latter half of the 1920s following the runaway success of Eisenstein's Bronenosec Potemkin (Battleship Potemkin). The film's Austrian distribution was handled by Newa-Film. That the company was named after the river Neva, which flows through Saint Petersburg, was no mere coincidence: at the time Newa dealt exclusively in Soviet films, and held the monopoly for the distribution of Soviet films in Austria, including productions by Goskino, Belgoskino, Sovkino, Proletkino, and Mezhrabpom-Rus. No doubt taking advantage of the critical and commercial success already experienced by Mat' in other parts of the world, Newa promoted the film heavily in the weeks before its Viennese release, boldly heralding it as "Der Film aller Filme" ("The film of all films").

The film was clearly a commodity of the highest prestige for Newa, as it even commissioned the production of a short trailer exclusively for first-run cinemas in Vienna. What is significant about the trailer is that it contains no footage from the film, and eschews any indication of the film's actual content. Instead, it consists completely of highly stylized animation, the content of which is more agitprop than a preview of coming attractions. Its imagery features an angelic depiction of lead actress Vera Baranovskaya, complete with wings, with the word "Mutter" emblazoned in large capital letters below, while a floating hand throws flowers at her feet. Later, an autonomously moving pen quotes a review from the German film periodical Licht-Bild-Bühne, underlining its key words.

The trailer was produced by Ottol-Film, a Viennese production company founded by the pioneer Austrian filmmaker Hans-Otto Löwenstein. In addition to its production activities, Ottol-Film also ran one of the largest film laboratories in the city. A vintage nitrate release print of Mutter was identified in the collections of the Austrian Film Museum in 2010 and digitally restored in 2011. While it may be considered trivial to mention that the surviving nitrate print was printed on Gevaert stock, in this instance it bears a certain amount of historical relevance: Ottol-Film was the licensed distributor of Gevaert film stock in Austria at that time.


Oliver Hanley, Former curator at the Austrian Film Museum


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