TO BE COMPLETED !
“Belle Epoque” is the story about the last days of Austro-Hungarian rule in the Balkans. It is the story of the events leading up to the assassination of the Austro-Hungarian Archduke Ferdinand, which sparked World War I. The months before the assassination were a time of unrest and intrigue, a tense time of false peace and false stability.
The main hero is Anton Walits, a cameraman who happens to be filming various events around Bosnia in the days preceding the assassination. Anton is part of the Austro-Hungarian capitalist class. Born in Bosnia, but of mixed European origins, he studied film in Vienna and has now returned to Bosnia, only to naively get involved in the dramatic political plots leading up to the war.
The revolutionary characters with whom Anton gets involved include a merry cabaret entertainer who is linked with international spy activity, Swiss-run and pro-socialist Bacuny-type anarchists, and the young Balkan assassins from the organization of “Mlada Bosna.” Walits is in close contact with these revolutionary-types, and without even realizing it he becomes a collaborator in the insurgent events.
A third of the film takes place in Vienna, where Walits learned to be a filmmaker, projectionist and cameraman. Many important historical figures are mentioned at this point in the film in order to capture the atmosphere of the era. Freud, young Hitler, Count Alexander Sascha Kolowrat (the pioneer of Austrian film-making), German cameraman Karl Freund, a boy named Fred Zinnemann (later a famous Hollywood director) and others are subtly portrayed as satirical and vaudeville characters.
Belle Epoque” contains both irony and melodrama. It marks the end of the epoch of Gutenbergh’s world of the first published book and marks the beginning of the modern era of film, satellite and technology. Walits’ films both document the volatile times and represent the beginning of the era of modern television and media. The point of “Belle Epoque” is to present modern audiences with an interesting portrait of the exciting and frightening way in which this century began. And perhaps to ask ourselves whether the end of the 20th century looks like the reverse picture of its beginning?