We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
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Monday, August 29. 2016
Lime's apartment building is almost next door to the Imperial Palace, in a fairly noteworthy section of the city. Yet you really wouldn't make the connection between reality and film if you weren't aware of its use, and I wasn't that first day. In fact, I wasn't clued in until my brother-in-law pointed it out to me on my last day in Vienna.
I didn't go to Vienna to do a tour of the film's locations, but trying to visit them will certainly give you a good understanding of the city and its history. It was filmed over some of the more interesting portions of town, and given the timing, the use of British and Soviet sectors helps keep that part of history alive and interesting. A tour of film locations is as good a way to see the city as any other.
To that end, there are some points of The Third Man worth addressing for modern viewers who aren't familiar with history. After all, Austria and its capital city, Vienna, were split by the Allies into zones of occupation and management much like Germany and Berlin. This continued for many years, ending in 1955 when secret negotiations between Austrian diplomats and the Soviets steered Austria into a neutral global position. (It may come as a surprise to some, but Vienna has tended to have a very cozy relationship with Socialism, and Communism in particular. While Austria has been a successful post-war 'Western' nation and economy, its capital city's cozy relationship with leftist politics are evident in location names (Friedrich-Engels Platz), tenement/museums (Karl-Marx-Hof, built in 1930), and even some of their monuments.) As a result, even though the war was long over, the military plays a primary role in the story.
Most of the film takes place in the British zone, which is where Lime's apartment is located. His address is 15 Stiftgasse, but the real location is the Palais Pallavicini, across from the Spanish Riding School in Michaelerplatz.
Since the film was shot in Vienna while it was still rebuilding after the war, in 1949, the devastation is still clear in many scenes. Most notably the road to the cemetery (south of the city toward the airport) or the lot next to the Cafe Mozart. The real Cafe Mozart wasn't used in the filming, as the location chosen was the Neuer Markt.
Another noteworthy point is the proximity of Lime's apartment to the "Hitler Balcony" (as my brother-in-law called it, though easy enough to Google). This is the balcony at Hofburg Palace where Hitler spoke to a cheering crowd of some 200,000 in Heldenplatz after the Anschluss. Literally around the corner from Lime's apartment, no more than 4 minutes walking. In fact, while the balcony is around the corner, the Hofburg Palace itself is directly across the street from Lime's apartment.
One memorable portion is the chase scene through the sewers of Vienna. Oddly enough, my brother-in-law tells me these sewers don't really exist in the fashion utilized (helping Harry move between occupation zones undetected), but were a construct of the film to advance the story properly. 'Sewer Tours' do exist, though, and you can visit the filming locations. I tend to believe my brother-in-law that the sewers could not have helped Harry. The canal was the dividing line for the Soviet sector, and I doubt the sewers ran underneath.
Finally, there is the iconic ferris wheel scene. Probably one of the most famous scenes in film history due to the cockeyed angles used, but most importantly for Harry Lime's famous "Cuckoo Clock" speech. As I mentioned, I wasn't there to see all the locations. But the ferris wheel was certainly on the agenda. Well, visiting was, while riding it would take too long. Happily, our bus back from Bratislava (only 3 Euros per person, with Wi-Fi onboard) dropped us off at the Stadion, not far from the Prater where the ferris wheel is located. We could have taken the U back from Stadion, but a quick look at the map and I realized we could get the ferris wheel out of the way on our first day. Since we were staying on the other side of the Donau Canal, and the Prater is not a particularly touristy region of the city, a stop made sense. Plus it was a Friday night and families were in the park, making for a lively and festive evening stroll. On this particular night, it's hard to believe Harry Lime would have used this location to justify his position. I suppose that is what makes it Film Noir.
An interesting side note regarding Harry Lime's apartment. On the corner of the building there was a block where the paint had been removed to show some old stenciling:
My brother-in-law speaks several languages, Russian among them, and told me this reads "Area Secure." He said his own building has the same words on it, and they were stenciled on as the Russians took Vienna, block-by-block, in April 1945. Stalin needed it as a bargaining chip. He knew the war was ending and it provided him a wonderful prize to help solidify his control of Eastern Europe. Apparently, as these stencils are uncovered, many buildings leave them exposed so the memory can be retained.
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It is my understanding that Hayek thought that socialism was a necessary precursor to fascism because of what he had experienced in Austria and Germany.
Yes, that's accurate, though I'm not sure it's necessary. Germany wasn't really socialist. I guess it depends on how you define 'socialism'.
Perhaps it's the willingness of the population to believe the government is altruistic and caring. I find so many people thinking "well, we vote for the government, so it wouldn't do anything to hurt the people it answers to." Which, of course, is a concept only a true idiot would believe.
The desire to believe 'getting the right people in office' is one of the most flawed theories in political activism there is.
That's some industrial grade cynicism you've got there. What's the alternative? Sit back and let our political elites (i.e. betters) manage everything unmolested?
I would never deny being a cynic, but you've probably read far too deeply into that comment.
My point is directed at those who, believing government can, will, and always should be a "force for good." Clearly, the overbearing weight of logic makes this highly improbable.
Politicians act out of self-interest. What you believe and want is rarely what they believe and want (usually just your vote and taxes). They are not altruistic, or even remotely close to it. While some mean well, the path to hell is paved with good intentions.
Do-good types get elected because they sound cheerful, friendly, and caring. Their results never live up to the hype, and these types, in using government to be altruistic or charitable, ultimately do as much damage as those who use government as a path to personal wealth.
The idea of my comment isn't to sit back and do nothing. It is to, always and everywhere, remain highly skeptical of the motivations of elected officials, even those we like or prefer, and remain skeptical when they make claims of improving life for the better.
Outside of leaving me and my earnings alone, there are very few areas where I can say a politician is "doing the right thing," particularly if that thing is what they want me to do and they are using law to force me to do it.
Oops, the issue of posting from a mobile device rears its ugly head:
My point is directed at those who, believing government can, will, and always should be a "force for good" and all this means is getting "the right person" in office.
(in fact, the concept of 'the right person in office' RELIES on humans being angels, a fact we know is impossible)
There's a "Third Man" museum in Vienna. It's a labor of love in a few rooms a bit south of the Ring. I thought it was worth going to.
And the Winged Hussars Arrived: