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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. Written by
Director Johannes Grenzfurthner uses Pachelbel's Canon in D at least once in each of his feature films: "Out of awe and disgust". In "Die Gstettensaga: The Rise of Echsenfriedl" it is a swing version with ukulele. See more »
Here's the tl;dr: Die Gstettensaga is what would happen if Beckett and Brecht collaborated on a post-apocalyptic cautionary tale against the dangers of cargo culture in the modern world. If you liked most of the words in that sentence, just skip the rest of this review and go watch the movie.
The film has a quality of constant anachronism. It takes place in a sparsely populated and ambiguous Europe after a war between the last great superpowers has destroyed civilization. However, the last great superpowers here were China and Google, which gives an idea of the tone of the entire project. It's either constantly winking or possibly squinting against the glare of the postmodern spectacle, and it's impossible to tell which. This kind of ambiguity runs through the whole film, but it comes off not as ill-defined so much as a mirror to the ambiguity of the modern world. The chiptune-flavored soundtrack creates an atmosphere of retro-futuristic uncertainty in much the same way that Wendy Carlos' moog classical did for _A Clockwork Orange_, and it's never clear if the ridiculous outfits are due to post-collapse scarcity or the progress of fashion. Constant in-jokes to nerds of a certain age create a sense that society was rebuilt by a cargo cult who primarily had access to technical manuals of the 90s, which, if you think about the ways in which we archive things, may not be too far-fetched. Despite this, my movie watching partner, who is not nearly as steeped in that world as I, was in hysterics through most of the movie, so this quality isn't alienating to other viewers.
There's a print magnate (who claims to have invented typesetting) trying to come to grips with New Media (the "Tele-O-vision"). There's a musical number that could be straight out of Jesus Christ Superstar involving what happens when you try to recreate NASDAQ with broken household items. And, without giving spoilers, there is a scene which somehow manages to deconstruct both zombies and cat memes. With one foot firmly planted on critical theory, the other in the mire of internet culture, and a third, recently evolved pseudopod grasping for meaning in a post-meaning world, Die Gsettensaga is a darkly hilarious commentary on our culture from a perspective only allowed by it having been destroyed and rebuilt by nerds.
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