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The making of Mosel Gold

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Mosel Gold got a 5-star award and the Best Photography award at BIAFF 2008.

Mosel and Déjà-vu

My wife and I took a trip along the Rhine. We lost our bearings on an excursion to the Hunsrück mountains and so followed a signpost to somewhere.

When we reached a viewpoint our gaze fell on a deep valley stretched beneath us. The houses lay over and under each other. Steep slate roofs - the grey matt-blue of these roofs was the remarkable feature of the place. This consistency of materials and their application was soothing for our eyes and feelings. The sight of the steely-slate-roof colour took me back to the school slates of my boyhood. Between them were steep, narrow staircases. The grapevines swept up the mountainside. In the valley, the Mosel river flowed in snake-like twists and turns. A wonderful, quiet magic seemed to come from it.

Still from 'Mosel Gold'. Still from 'Mosel Gold'. Still from 'Mosel Gold'.

All these impressions pulsed through me. My eye became moist and my memories seemed to sink into the view. I saw the valley, the river, the houses, the details and the vineyards but somehow not for the first time. Everything seemed hyper-real. I was swept up in this landscape. I had a moment of déjà-vu!

I recognised all of these impressions : they were the illustrations in my childhood books. Suddenly I was an infant again. I was back in the world of my youth and knew, that these drawings were no creations of the imagination but real landscapes. Places where as a child I had longed to be.

The countryside stirred longings in me and also brought a certain contentment, because now I was certain that I would make a film about this place, its people and their work. I revelled in the solitude, fresh air and anticipation of the forthcoming film work which I love. I jotted down impressions in this short time and felt so comfortable with the ideas that I was able to start the script after just two weeks.

From a vague intention, the business of making a film about the Mosel valley, became a passionate purpose.

I prepared an elaborate script. In the meantime winter arrived and I was set for my first production visit to Mosel. In order to be able to concentrate fully and completely on filming, I sketched each shot and noted its essential points.

The thoughts and ideals, that steered me then, grew from a love of nature and the people who lived and worked in it. The local group of wine-growers was much taken with the idea of a film about their industry and they helped to construct a screenplay that was technically accurate.

Making the film required six trips there and back: 1.500,00 km, and 14 days staying in the area.

The script and commentary was created in the secluded silence of the vineyards.

Still from 'Mosel Gold'. Still from 'Mosel Gold'. Still from 'Mosel Gold'.

I had many happy times, but also some sad experiences during the shooting of the film. There were many events of both kinds. For example, at the beginning of the film you can see a crane shot. It is the only such shot, because a wine-grower ran over the crane with his tractor. That meant the total loss of a new and expensive piece of equipment. The shocked wine-grower, who was obviously not well-off, offered contritely to make up for the damage in natural produce, that is in wine - adding that "he hoped that would not compound the damage by turning me into an alcoholic." I rejected the offer and filed the incident under "accidents". Disbelief, great relief and a sense of fellowship flowed over the face of the tractor driver.

Unfortunately, this period was filled not just with beautiful and funny stories. During the shooting I also endured sorrow and illness. I lost friends through death and a wine-grower, involved in the film, suffered a fatal stroke.

In the attitude of strangers to the people of the Mosel, I recognized a mistaken expectation. Strangers anticipated that the wine people would be loud, full of devilment and probably bawdy. Since they expected to find this - they provoked it. That is the reason I refused to include any of the boisterous wine-growers' parties in my film.

I will never forget quiet moments with individual wine-growers in the vineyards, when they told me about themselves and the stories of their lives. There I knew, they accepted me and we had become close.

From the first idea to the completion of the film took two years.

The innumerable experiences I had would fill a book, so this film contains much emotional material, which during a screening brings those memories back to life for me. Even as shooting came to an end, I already suspected that my serious heart illness would make it almost impossible for me to return to the Mosel.

Still from 'Mosel Gold'. Still from 'Mosel Gold'. Still from 'Mosel Gold'.

Portrait of Ernst Auhuber.In the evening of the last day of production, I sat down in Piesport at a place in a vineyard high above the Mosel valley. I had a wine cork with me, and while I said good-bye, I happily breathed in its distinctive scent.

The awards for "Mosel Gold" touch me very much and suggests I did justice to the place and people. I am filled with pride and honour to be inscribed on the Wallace Heaton Trophy for best photography.

- Ernst Auhuber, Austria 2008

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Page updated on 07 October 2011
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