Vienna makes a wonderful backdrop for any film, with beautiful, 19th-century architecture, romantic winding streets, and plenty of green spaces. Here are some of the finest portrayal’s of Austria’s capital on screen, from biopics about Gustav Klimt to romantic dramas.
The Third Man
Spotlighting post-war Vienna in black and white, The Third Man is a true iconic masterpiece. Originally a novel written by English author Graham Greene, this cinematic heavyweight takes you on a unique tour of some of the capital city’s landmarks and underground sites in Vienna—including a few less glamorous sites such as the city’s sewer system. The Prater amusement park is one of the most prominently featured landmarks, seeing the fairground appears as romantic. Atmospheric and gripping, the film will stir your intrigue for Vienna and its past life. Regular screenings of the film are shown at English language cinema Burg Kino, and tours of the landmarks, including the sewer system, are available. Watch the trailer below for a taste.
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The director of this 2013 romantic drama, Jem Cohen, became fixated with the Kunsthistorisches Art Museum (the Art history museum) in Vienna when he was a guest of the Viennale. His charming film depicts the relationship between elderly museum steward Johann and Canadian visitor Anne, who develop a complex friendship as they bond over artworks by Brueghel, Rubens, and Rembrandt. As they meander around the city, with Johann acting as an impromptu tour guide, Vienna is presented like a tapestry created by Brueghel.
The basic premise of this dreamy loved up drama is—two enchanting strangers meet on a train passing through Europe and decide to get off in Vienna together, embarking on a whimsical evening of philosophical chit-chat and romantic sightseeing. Used as a backdrop for the lover’s date, beautiful shots of the city’s landmarks are seen—including the Vienna State Opera, the Cemetery of The Nameless, and the Wiener Riesenrad (where the pair share a kiss at sunset). Directed by Richard Linklater, Before Sunrise premiered at the 1995 Sundance Film Festival and was highly praised by the critics.
The first film in a trilogy about Austria’s Empress Elisabeth, this epic is directed by Ernst Marischka and stars Romy Schneider. The plot documents the romantic pursuit of the Empress—more commonly known by her nickname Sissi—by infamous Emperor Franz Joseph I. Portraying an engaging vision of Imperial Habsburg Vienna, the majority of the Sissi trilogy was filmed at the majestic Schönbrunn Palace, which remains to be one the most popular tourist attractions in the city.
Gustav Klimt is one of Austria’s most revered figures. His glittering, decorative artworks are immediately recognizable, with eroticism being the primary theme of his paintings. This 2006 arthouse film, starring John Malkovich and Veronica Ferris, documents the painter’s dramatic tale as he lies dying from pneumonia in a hospital in Vienna. Capturing the essence of Vienna’s lively cultural scene in the 1800s, it an engaging and enigmatic film.
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