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Friday, November 07, 2014

Gunther Plüschow

Ikarus, 1932
(Antik Bar)
no copyright infringement intended

I like to read sometimes El Diario del Fin del Mundo (a newspaper printed in Ushuaia, the southernmost city on earth, which gives me some feeling of being there, at the very end of the world). Well, actually Chile disputes this glory to Ushuaia, promoting instead Puerto Williams. It wouldn't be the first time that Chile and Argentina have something to disagree each other, but I know a word that an old and dear friend of mine used to say in such situations, philosophi certant.

I just read in this Diario del Fin del Mundo a note about Ikarus, a movie from 1932 that would have a screening in Ushuaia this November 9: one of the few movies made by the famous German aviator and explorer Gunther Plüschow about his expeditions in Tierra del Fuego. The film was considered lost for almost eight decades. It was eventually retrieved by Gerhard Ehlers after a long search in the German archives.

It should be a great event this screening at Ushuaia:, and I'd loved to be there, but sometimes what's impossible is really so. The movie will be introduced by Gerhard Ehlers (besides finding Ikarus, he is a director/writer/producer of short films like Die Koffer and Smoorverlief; his logo is To Change the World Through Cinema).

Silberkondor über Feuerland, 1927
(Büsum Information)
no copyright infringement intended

Maybe one day I will have the opportunity to watch Ikarus, on Internet, or on a DVD copy, or why not, in a theater. Or to watch another of Plüschow's movies, or to read one or other of his books. Because to say that the life of Gunther Plüschow was amazing would be a misnomer. Beginning with the First World War: he was sent in China, to Tsingtau, by that time a German colony. He became there a pilot on a Taube, soon getting well-known for his bravery. When the city was attacked by the Japanese, Plüschow was ordered to fly out carrying with him the last dispatches of Tsingtau's governor. After about 150 miles of flight the plane crashed. He set fire to the plane and started for Germany on foot (or mostly on foot, at a certain stage of his trip he had to sail on a junk, at some other moment he had to hide in a rickshaw to get clandestinely on a train, and so on), anyway he managed to cross China, narrowly escaping several times from imminent arrest, took a ship to San Francisco, crossed the United States, took another ship for Europe, was eventually caught by the British at Gibraltar and interned in a prisoner camp in England. He escaped from there, spent some time incognito in London (making photos on the street, reading books about Patagonia, and hiding in the British Museum during the nights), till he procured fake documents and took a ship to Netherlands. From there he arrived in Germany.

After the war he decided to dedicate his life to exploring Patagonia and Terra del Fuego, and that's what he did, making several expeditions, on ship or flying a seaplane (a Heinkel), filming and writing books about his endeavors. In 1931 it was his last expedition. The target was the Perito Moreno Glacier. The plane crashed and he died in the accident, together with his board engineer, Ernst Dreblow.

And nowadays a great passionate for the history of flight and the history of great explorers, Roberto Litvachkes, built a replica of the seaplane of Plüschow to fly on his Patagonian traces, filming and writing. Roberto Litvachkes published on the web small fragments from the original movies of Plüschow. I watched them with emotion and joy, like always when I have the occasion to watch movies, or fragments of movies, made in that epoch by people in love of traveling on distant lands, in love of documenting their journeys with films and photos and books. Like Grass from 1925, like the Citroën expeditions in Africa (1926) and Asia (1933). And coming back to Tierra del Fuego, maybe one day I'll find more about the endeavors of Iuliu Popper there (for better or worse, his facts were both influential and controversial - but all in good time).

the movies of Gunther Plüschow - fragment 1
(video by Roberto Litvachkes)

the movies of Gunther Plüschow - fragment 2
(video by Roberto Litvachkes)

the movies of Gunther Plüschow - fragment 3
(video by Roberto Litvachkes)

the movies of Gunther Plüschow - fragment 4
(video by Roberto Litvachkes)

the movies of Gunther Plüschow - fragment 5
(video by Roberto Litvachkes)

the movies of Gunther Plüschow - fragment 6
(video by Roberto Litvachkes)

Maragogipe em 1927 - Filme do alemão Gunther Plüschow
(video by Zevaldo Sousa)

(Iberic and Iberic-American Cinema)

(German and Nordic Cinema)

(German and Nordic Literature)


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