Unsere Afrikareise (1966) (aka Our Trip To Africa)
Rare is the film where the idea of a director is revealed rather than expressed. Of course, the moment the camera chooses a position and an angle, the director has made a moral choice. But not often do wee see these images speaking about themselves. Our Trip to Africa (1966) is such a film where the how and what of its images tell us more about the “maker” than his ideologies. Overloaded with visuals from the “protagonist’s” safari in the African continent, the film could, at first glance, simply be called a badly shot tourist video. But soon, certain images repeat themselves at regular intervals and concoct a theme of sorts to establish that there is more to the film than meets the eye. We see shots of the natives, especially of their bare torsos, and of wild animals being killed for game. The photographer seems to be enjoying this thoroughly. Then, in complete contrast, there are also shots of other white people, presumably the photographer’s family, having a sunbath on their boat and who, too, seem to be happy to bask in the exotic wild that is now under their control. Our Trip to Africa could be easily panned for its decidedly imperialist (and, to an extent, racist) tone, if not for one simple fact – that it is a film within a film. That the function of Our Trip to Africa is not to act as a tourist video, but to show us one. That there’s a world’s difference between the outlook of the man behind the camera – the protagonist of the film – and of “the man behind the man behind the camera” – Peter Kubelka, the director.
(GRAPHIC CONTENT WARNING!)