This film shows Ferdinand of Liechtenstein's 1929 expedition across East Africa, which was led by Ladislaus Almásy and filmed by newsreel cameraman Rudi Mayer.
Mayer was made famous by his footage of the burning of Vienna's Palace of Justice in 1927.
t. left: hunting elephants, 1929
t. right: a lion's trail, 1929
b. left: Almásy leaves a letter, 1929
b. right: Demonstration, Vienna 1932
("Through Africa in an Automobile")

Reconstructed documentary
Rudi Mayer 1929

Silent, 35mm, black and white
110 Min.

After starting in Mombasa, this expedition went to Cairo via Nairobi, Mongalla, Malakal, El Obeid, Khartoum, Wadi Jalfa, Selima and Kharga. Over 12,000 kilometers were covered from January to June. This was the first crossing of the Sud (a large swamp) between Mombasa and Khartoum in an automobile; on the way, the explorers discovered an ancient route used by caravans, the Darb el Arbe'in, the Road of 40 Days.

Their two Steyr XX pickups were the first to cover the murderous terrain. Hunts for elephants, lions and buffaloes were staged for a Debrie hand-cranked movie camera and a Zeiss Ikon. While the locals marveled at the technology used by the explorers, the latter's interest was aroused only when the natives begged for help as if they were characters in a cheap dime novel: "Save us, oh Effendi, from the king of beasts! He is ravaging our herds!"
This film lay forgotten for decades. The original negative was found in a beekeeping shed near Vienna. The reconstructed film premiered at Vienna's Ethnological Museum in 1996, coincidentally on the same day of The English Patient's debut.
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© 2001 epo-film, kurt mayer film