People, monsters, sensations: The history of Vienna's Prater is told in snatches from conversations with showmen, impressions from visitors, film citations, documents, observations, and staged elements. The oldest amusement park in the world is reflected in its technical and media development – kaleidoscopically visualized with flying camera movements over texts by Elfriede Jelinek, Josef von Sternberg, Erich Kästner, Elias Canetti.
Within the world of illusion, which began with a ferris wheel and today shoots visitors into outer space in the ejection seat, there are moments of intimacy: While young men test their strength at the "Watschenmann", a dancing woman forgets everything around her. Cinema, a space of contemplation, began as a fairgound attraction. The history of Prater and the work of Ulrike Ottinger have something in common: The world becomes a stage and the stage the world. She reports on show booths and illusion machines, but she also says something about her films. Veruschka, once Dorian Gray, leads us like Barbarella in front of the distortion mirror. Images from "Freak Orlando" follow the man with no lower body. But Ottinger shows even more: Against the backdrop of dreams of travel, encyclopedic curiosity, but also colonialist imagination, Prater brings the world into its hall of mirrors.
Stefanie Schulte Strathaus
Production: Kurt Mayer Film, Vienna; Ulrike Ottinger Filmproduktion, Berlin
Screenplay, Cinematographer: Ulrike Ottinger
Sound: Klaus Kellermann
Editor: Bettina Blickwede
Guests: Elfriede Jelinek, Elfriede Gerstl, Ursula Storch, Werner Schwarz, Herbert J. Wimmer Darsteller: Peter Fitz, Veruschka, Robert Kaldy-Karo, Barbara Prewein, Georg Albert and Evelyn Sulzbacher
Format: 35mm, Color
Running time: 104 minutes