Austrian Film Museum: What do pictures and paintings have in common?

The Austrian Film Museum is located in the same palace as one of the largest collections of graphics in the world, the palace of Archduke Albrecht von Österreich-Teschen, better known as The Albertina. The museum that shows art on a screen cannot compete in its grandeur with hundreds of square meters of exhibition spaces of the Albertina, which is why it seems to be a more unspectacular friend of a glamorous It-Girl. But that is only the first impression.

Having passed through the glass doors, you will find yourself in the dusky foyer even on a sunny day. There is a box office, a shop selling books on the history of cinema, and a hipster cafe (how could it be any other?). If before entering you thought, ‘This is the Film Museum of Vienna, what will I do here if I don’t speak German’, do not worry, the films shown here are usually easy to understand without dubbing.

I visited a screening of the films by the Viennese studio ‘Saturn’, which was the first in Austria to launch the production of ‘extremely spicy movies for men to watch in the evenings’. French creators provided the audience with this kind of products since the very appearance of cinema, and in 1906, a Viennese photographer, Johan Schwarz, decided that it was the time to take the lead and bring the genre to a new level, that is, to undress the models.

In fact, the storylines of the French and the Austrian films enlivened well-known pictorial art plot. But French did not have the guts to present ‘Dianas’ and ‘Venuses’ nude, they swim and go to bed in nightgowns. As for Schwarz, his ladies were getting naked whenever they had a chance. They are doing almost exclusively in a habitual manner, not flirting with the camera.

The most popular plots are about swimming or just changing clothes. The viewer is spying on women through the frame of the screen or through the eyes of a movie character, a substitute peeper of a kind: a policeman, a passer-by, or a fisherman.

The length of the films starts at 20 meters, which is literally just enough for the picture to come alive and for ladies to show off its curves. It’s impossible not to mention the immortal ‘Ladies at a dressing table’, ‘Susanna and the Elders’, ‘Bathing Diana’ and other beauties that have been occupying these niche on the erotic market since the 16th century. Patricia Fortini Brown, a researcher of Venetian art, asserts that the majority of half-nude portraits like Giorgione’s ‘Laura’ were nothing but advertising posters of courtesans.

Another fact proving the strong connection between erotic cinema and traditional art is that there are plenty of plots about statues coming alive. And the veracity of the storylines is evidenced by the the ‘Miscellaneous’ section a paper, such as ‘Naked German women get lost in Swedish woods’.

We live in the era of streaming services featuring various degree of lawfulness. And it may seem that anything can be found on the Internet, but this is surely not quite so, since numerous masterpieces and simply exciting stuff are still only available offline, in the world of celluloid film. The Austrian Film Museum with its comfy hall and relaxing atmosphere is one of the most intriguing and unique places of the magical analogue reality.

Film Museum Website