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Gstettensaga: The Rise of Echsenfriedl, Die

Gstettensaga: The Rise of Echsenfriedl, Die (2014) Movie Poster
Austria  •    •  72m  •    •  Directed by: Johannes Grenzfurthner.  •  Starring: Stuart Freeman, Sophia Grabner, Lukas Tagwerker, Martin Auer, Roland Gratzer, Evelyn Fürlinger, Jeff Ricketts, Manuel Bräuer, James Brothwell, Tom De Roeck, Rebecca Alice Döltl, Clara Gallistl, Thomas Kranabetter.  •  Music by: Max Beseda, Kasson Crooker, Stefan Franke, Robert Glashüttner, Jordan Starpause Gray, Leigh Howells, Brady Leo, Albin Meskes, Andreas Stoiber, Christoph Burstup Weiss, Yakov.
     The growing tension between the last two remaining superpowers -­ China and Google -­ escalates in the early 21st century, and results in the global inferno of the ''Google Wars''. But the years go by, radioactive dust settles on old battlegrounds, and a New World rises from the ashes of the old. Fratt Aigner, a seedy journalist, and Alalia Grundschober, a nerdy technician, live and work in Mega City Schwechat: the biggest semi-urban sprawl in the foothills of what remained of the Alps. Newspaper mogul Thurnher von Pjölk assigns them a special task: to venture into the boondocks of the Gstetten and find the legendary Echsenfriedl. It is the beginning of a journey full of dangers, creatures and precarious working conditions.


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Image from: Gstettensaga: The Rise of Echsenfriedl, Die (2014)
Image from: Gstettensaga: The Rise of Echsenfriedl, Die (2014)
Image from: Gstettensaga: The Rise of Echsenfriedl, Die (2014)
Image from: Gstettensaga: The Rise of Echsenfriedl, Die (2014)
"The Dstettensaga: The Rise of Eschenfried" is a social-commentary sausage, run through a Monty Python meat grinder and seasoned with a sprinkling of "Kin-dza-dza!" Two heroes search for the elusive Echsenfriedl (translation: Freddy Lizard) as they wonder a post-apocalyptic world armed with the "newest" gadgets (a VHS camera and a "field telephone" connected to a 10-foot-tall satellite dish carted around in a wheelbarrow). Most of the movie has an a no-budget, anti-aesthetic, DIY, zombie-flashmob vibe, while other parts are beautifully filmed and prove surprisingly striking. The soundtrack sounds like a 8-bit video game, which suits the retro-nostalgic content and visuals.

The main plot, of a out-of-date media mogul who tries to stop progress (which here means "Tele-O-Vision"), is part satire and part parable about old vs. new, how the latest thing soon becomes problematic and old-hat and usurped by yet another new thing, and so on. Some of the satire may resonate most in Northern Europe (one plot thread has farmer collectives capture travelers and make them fill out faded EU grant applications before cannibalizing them for slow food). But if you're been wondering where you can see people wearing tinsel dance around a gravel pit singing into a vibrator about free markets, this is the place.

There are some good lines ("My dear, I wish I could show you on a rag doll where Baby Jesus has touched me."), but most of the humor comes from funny ideas. At first it is unclear why a militia of heavily armed postal workers is manning checkpoints and confiscating technology until one asks, "Who will have to do the dirty work ... when everything goes wrong again with the New Media? We, of course! The Postal Services! And the Postal Partner Militias ... And the carrier pigeon raisers."

Certainly, this is the only movie set in the Austrian Alps to declare that "the hills are alive with the sound of illiterate nostalgics!".

Review by n. b. from the Internet Movie Database.