Universum Through the Raven's Eye
The ORF UNIVERSUM documentary “Through the Raven‘s Eye“ takes the viewer into a landscape of contrasts unique in Central Europe. This part of the Northern Limestone Alps is a breathtaking example of the power and ingenuity of nature.
The craggy, steep slopes of the “Totes Gebirge“ or “Dead Mountains“ tower above the surrounding landscape on the border between the Austrian provinces of Upper Austria and Styria. Covering an area of 1,100 km2 and reaching elevations of 2,500 metres, this barren, inhospitable karst plateau is the largest in the region.
Rainwater quickly soaks into the karst surface, leaving the peaks barren but encouraging rich growth at the foot of the mountains. Larch and pine forests are found among the mountains‘ characteristic jagged rocks at higher elevations. The gentler flanks of the plateau are covered in mixed birch forests, and lower down the mountains inaccessible ravines carve their way through the landscape.
However, at the foot of this stony, harsh environment lies a paradise of sparkling turquoise lakes, pristine springs, soft, mosscovered forests and mysterious moors. Surrounded by wetlands, the mountain massif is also an island of serenity: in summer, the red deer are able to wallow freely in the open.
The common raven, a brave and shrewd bird ideally suited to a life in the mountains, guides the viewer through the contradictions and confounding nature of the Totes Gebirge. Through its eyes, we encounter the specialist species that have found a way to survive here, including chamois, ptarmigans and mountain hares.
Temporary karst springs provide a habitat for rare amphibians. The viewer is introduced to spectacular fish migrations, frogs that mate beneath the ice and other species typical of the area, including wallcreepers.
Close examination of the raven reveals just how deep its interaction with other regional species goes. It is the king of this wild region - and behaves accordingly. Almost playfully, the raven takes the audience on an expedition into the “Totes Gebirge“.
Despite the lack of water and the remote location, the “Totes Gebirge“ has been home to a culture of farming and hunting for centuries. Approximately 300 ancient pastures still serve as a reminder of these traditions, and time appears to have stopped here. Human impact has left a permanent mark on this wildest of alpine regions.
Special footage reveals the mating ritual of the pseudo-scorpion and the hunting behaviour of the white-backed woodpecker, which uses its long, barbed tongue to seek out grubs. Spectacular high-speed footage provides insight into the rarelydocumented ornithological beauty of the wallcreeper as it flies and hunts.
Movement is a central stylistic element of the documentary. Small, motorised camera boats, special camera sliders and moving time-lapse footage provide surprising new views of flora and fauna.
Writer & Director: Franz Hafner
Production Management Interspot Film: Martin Demmerer
Executive Producer Interspot Film: Nikolaus Klingohr, Ingrid Klingohr
Executive Producer ORF: Andrew Solomon
Executive Producer ZDF/ARTE: Marita Hübinger
Commissioning Editor ORF: Birgit Peters
Commissioning Editor ZDF/ARTE: Petra Boden