Mit der neunteiligen Reihe »Unser Österreich« dokumentiert »Universum History« erstmals die Geschichte der Bundesländer. Anhand von neun Familien werden historische Wendepunkte, persönliche Schlüsselerlebnisse und die Auseinandersetzung mit Tradition und Veränderung thematisiert.
The Woman who Knew Too Much: A Cold Case from the Cold War
Brilliant young Austrian economist Margarethe Ottillinger was arrested on 5th November 1948, crossing a bridge between the Soviet and American zones in post-war Vienna. It was a classic Cold War kidnapping. Ottilinger had been researching the Soviet exploitation of Austrian industry, but even after her release from a Russian prison seven years later, she never learned the official reason for her detention and torture. The rumour persisted that she was sacrificed by her boss and lover, the Austrian economics minister Peter Krauland. He had a Nazi past and there was evidence of a complicated web of corruption and political conspiracy. Using latest revelations from Russian and Austrian archives, this film turns a tragic personal story into an iconic account of Cold War deceit and skullduggery.
The Wild and the West
The real nature of the western: Why is it that other rivers always act as the double for the Rio Bravo, vultures have never gotten beyond being extras, and that scorpions always climb into the hero´s boots?
For the past one-hundred years westerns have awoken a longing for real adventure and for the big «undiscovered country»- and they've been so successful that most people it's easy to picture the Wild West: Dust blowing through the prominent rock formations of Monument Valley. Endless deserts which test the endurance of righteous men and provide a perfect hiding place for outlaws. Rapid rivers, on the other side of which, a new and better life awaits.
But what 'westerns' tell us about the west is only a part of the story and most of the time it's just fiction - especially the landscape and the wildlife. In the Wild West, it's only a day's ride from the desert to the river, whereas in reality the landscapes are often thousands of miles apart. Not only did they use riders to double for actors they also used bogus rivers to double for the real thing. The famous Rio Bravo is mentioned in the title of more than a hundred westerns, but it's so dried up that in a western it's normally replaced by the Colorado or the San Juan River.
In »Wild is the West«, the man with no name is the wise old man of the west. Nothing is strange to him: From the cavalry, whose legend is bigger than reality, to the myths of the relentless burning hot desert. He proves (at least on celluloid) that it's possible to kill and roast a turkey within five seconds. The famous »man without a name«, hero of countless westerns from the 60´s and 70´s changes genre for this documentary film: He rides through 'Western country' and talks about his life as a professional hero, about the fantasy of the director and about some of the unusual animals and plants that he's encountered in the course of his career. In this documentary, the American actor, Joe Dimmick, plays the role of the Man without a name. He has been the number one double for Clint Eastwood for more than thirty years and is a hopeless romantic, «Can you feel it yet, the feeling to leave everything behind and ride into the sunset? I'll tell you one thing, «If you really want to, you can find the good old West everywhere.»
The Voynich Code - The World's Most Mysterious Manuscript
It is the world's most mysterious manuscript. A book, written by an unknown author, illustrated with pictures that are as bizarre as they are puzzling - and written in a language that even the best cryptographers have been unable to decode. No wonder then, that this script even has a part in Dan Brown's latest bestseller, «The Lost Symbol». The Voynich Manuscript has captivated academics and occultists in equal measure since its discovery 100 years ago. The decoders of the Japanese Purple Code, physicists with high-performance modern computers and polymath historians have all tried their luck. But to date nobody has been able to decipher the book's contents. «The Voynich Mystery» follows a completely new lead in the hunt for the author's identity and uncovers the secret of the mysterious manuscript using the methods of materials science. To the present day many historians believe the manuscript to be a fake, allegedly circulated by the New York antique book dealer, Wilfrid Voynich, in 1912 so that he could offer it to wealthy manuscript collectors. Voynich did not, however, succeed in selling the mysterious manuscript to a collector during his lifetime. After his death, it eventually found its way into the collection of the University of Yale's Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library. The manuscript's age, origin and contents remained unknown. For almost a century, the numerous illustrations in particular have given rise to the most adventurous speculation and astounding theories. The secret lettering itself is also still a source of great mystery. But now a new investigative approach has shed new light into the maze of conflicting theories and ideas. At the home of the Voynich Manuscript, the University of Yale, the mysterious text has been looked at again using the methods of material science.
The Vampire Princess
An aristocratic demon hunting for human blood, who strikes unsuspecting mortals at night - everyone knows the grim story of Count Dracula. Now scientists can reveal the truth: the vampire story as we know it isn't modelled on a medieval count from Transylvania but on the fate of a Bohemian princess from the early 18th century. She suffered from an allergy to light and could only leave her living quarters secretly at night. As a terrible fear of vampires swept central Europe at that time the people of a small village went into hysterics and committed a horrible crime. This documentary traces the origins of all the vampire myths by uncovering a gruesome murder.
The Treasury - Vienna's Natural History Museum
For the world famous newspaper, the «Sunday Times», an English team of museum specialists determined the ten best museums of this world - Austria's Natural History Museum of Vienna was within the top ten. Without a doubt, it holds a unique position within the museums of the world. Vienna's Natural History Museum is a collection of natural treasures - from meteorites to stone age artefacts, from dinosaur bones to fossils trapped in amber. But how did these jewels find their way into this temple of knowledge? Every piece has its own story which leads out of the museum into the remotest corners of the world - and beyond. For the first time, this documentary will unfold the history of this traditional Viennese museum as well as explore the museum's contribution to science across the world.
The Ice Trap - The Tegetthoff's Arctic Odyssey
The «Franz Josef Land» archipelago was discovered in 1873 by an Austrian polar expedition. This 90-minute special illustrates the achievements and sacrifices of the ship's 24 crew members from Istria, Dalmatia, Italy, Hungary, Bohemia and Austria. Trapped in the ice, the Tegetthoff drifted northward, farther north than any human being had ever ventured before. Captain Carl Weyprecht's decision to abandon the doomed ship and begin the long trek over the pack-ice back through Siberia led to one of the most spectacular achievements of a team in international polar history.
Two towns and one mountain in the Austrian province of Tyrol changed the world. They took humankind from the depths of the Middle Ages to modern times. They helped the Habsburgs and German commercial traders to power and wealth. This is where 80% of the world's silver was mined. An instrument of currency was established right here, the «Taler», which would later become the world-renowned «Dollar». Today the Tyrolean cities of Schwaz and Hall, and the Falkenstein «Silver Mountain», have sunk into a long slumber. This film revives the historic lives of these cities by reconstructing the day-today experience of the miners and their medieval technology.
In 25 years the nuclear wasteland around Chernobyl has re-emerged as a complete ecosystem and one of Europe's largest wildlife sanctuaries. And yet, it is radioactive. Where humans are unable to live, nature is flourishing. Somewhere in this nuclear wilderness, there are packs of radioactive wolves, wandering through abandoned towns. Here they live in large packs as they used to. There are now an estimated 300+ wolves making the most of this deceptively beautiful landscape. But are these wolves mutants? Have they been affected by nuclear contamination after the '86 explosion? This film embarks on a journey to investigate the fate of the wolves and other animals in the contaminated wilderness.
This film takes a look at the various ways poisons have been used throughout history, using dramatic reconstructions of some of the most infamous poisonings. But the film doesn't stop there. Using advanced computer animation, we travel inside the bodies of a victim of the Borgias, as well as Cleopatra, Hannibal, Socrates, Emperor Leopold and a host of other unfortunate victims, to witness from the inside how they died. The film follows humanity's macabre search over thousands of years for the perfect poison. A poisoner needs a poison that is tasteless and colorless, and therefore won't be noticed by the victim. It needs to work in low doses, so a poisoner doesn't have to feed his victim large quantities. And it needs to be reliably and quickly lethal. Finally, it needs to be undetectable after the event, so the poisoner leaves no trail of guilt. In fact, for preference it should mimic the symptoms of a disease, so no-one even suspects poisoning. Not surprisingly, such a perfect poison is not easy to find or make, and the search has occupied some of humanity's finest minds.
Ol' Man River - Mighty Mississippi
There is no river on earth where so many dreams were dreamt, where so many dreams came true or fell apart, where the dividing line between life and death is as thin as on the Mississippi - North America's great river. The Mississippi is the world's third largest river. From the Canadian border to New Orleans, from Helena in the Rocky Mountains to Pittsburgh, it drains 31 US states and two Canadian provinces. Since the first human beings set foot on the North-American subcontinent, the face of the river has changed dramatically. This epic film shows the great American river in cinematically beautiful images and emotions. Moving cameras show the endlessness of the land, the impenetrable wilderness and, in stark contrast, the shining steel facades of modern metropolises. The film also reveals a fascinating world inhabited by rare plant and animal wildlife with a distinctly exotic touch. At the same time, it invites us on a journey through history. In several episodes, with the aid of CGI we travel into the past from characteristic sites.
Also available in 2 x 45min.
Of Graves and Robbers - The Sell-out of Peruvian History
The arid sand deserts of Peru have been preserving mummies and burial artefacts over many millennia. Recent excavations such as the royal burial chambers of Sipán and the 220 mummies found at the Lake of Condors produced a scientific sensation comparable only to the discovery of the Egyptian tombs. Starting out from these finds, the movie goes in hot pursuit of what happens at and around the excavation sites of Peru. On the one hand there's Peruvian archaeologist Sonia Guillen, who has dedicated her life to the proper scientific investigation of her country's heritage. Her efforts are frequently frustrated by grave looters: entire villages make their living by digging up ancient burying places to get at artefacts which earn the huaceros a few dollars but which bring enormous wealth to international smuggling networks. Quite often it is the grave robbers who put scientists on the tracks of new discoveries - yet every devastated site is another irredeemable loss of our heritage. The documentary illuminates the criminal entanglements of the international antique market and follows the famous FBI art cops in reconstructing the spectacular robbery of one of the most
Myths of the Alps
Since ancient times the High Alps have been a region of extremes: bizarre landscapes, powerful acts of nature and deprivation for both people and animals. In these regions, myths and sagas were especially powerful. People tried to deal with those forces of nature by explaining them with arcane tales and worshipping powerful gods to calm their fearful minds. Energy fields, stone altars for sacrifices, healing spring waters - they all have a mysterious code that continues to live on in the traditions and rituals of the communities living in remote villages far beyond civilization. This documentary traces these myths to produce a journey through time to the places our ancestors once worshipped, visiting some of the most beautiful mountain regions in the heart of Europe.
Mysteries of the Stone Age
They seem to have come from another world: circles and buildings made of gigantic stones. The most famous are Stonehenge in Britain and Carnac in France. But these megaliths from the Stone Age - 5,000 years BCE - are found all round the world, as recent discoveries show. There appears to be a network of sites from the north of Scotland to the Mediterranean (Malta alone has around 30 temples) to the Far East - with gigantic graves in Korea. It's still not clear how ancient civilizations managed to create these fantastic stone structures. How did they lift the huge blocks into place? And what can we learn about those societies? What were the turning points in their history? Was there a secret connection between the cultures that built the megalith circles? New studies and the latest international research reveal fresh clues to the biggest mysteries of the Stone Age.
Maximilian of Mexico - The Dream of Empire
Since childhood, Archduke Maximilian, brother of Emperor Franz Joseph I., has wished for nothing more than to emerge from his sibling's shadow. His dream finally comes true when he becomes Emperor of Mexico. However, the dream unexpectedly and rapidly becomes a nightmare: Maximilian believes he is welcome in Mexico, but the opposite is true. He is finally captured by his adversary, Benito Juarez, and sentenced to death. Maximilian's dreams of becoming a glorious ruler die with him, cut down by a firing squad. To mark the 150th anniversary of Maximilian's ascent to the throne in 1874, this docudrama examines the fate of the contradictory and complex Habsburg prince, and investigates the circumstances that led to his tragic failure.
Maria Theresa - Europe's Mother-in-Law
The Empress arranged her children's marriages to make peace with France, Spain, Parma and Naples. One of these children was Marie Antoinette, who married Louis XVI of France before they were both decapitated. Needless to say, these marriages were largely unsuccessful. Watch as Maria Theresia struggled to balance dynastic responsibility and motherly love.
Madeira - Emerald in the Atlantic
Madeira is considered as «the green emerald» in the Atlantic ocean. The island's mountains are overgrown with million-years-old primeval forests. The Laurisilva forest, the largest of its kind in Europe, covers an area of 22,000 hectares and has been proclaimed to be UNESCO World Natural Heritage in 1999. The majority of all plant and animal species that occur on Madeira are global endemics. In his film, multi-award winner Kurt Mündl tells the story of discovery and colonization of the archipelago and shows endangered nature and traditional culture in extraordinary pictures: From whales to Europe's smallest bird, from traditional sugar cane processing to the centuries-old craft of basket-making.
Luis Trenker - Hitler's Mountain Hero
Luis Trenker is a legend. Best known internationally for his mountain films with then actress Leni Riefenstahl ("The White Hell of Piz Pallü"), he had a controversial movie career under the Nazis and was championed by Italian Fascists, before being reborn after the War telling stories of his life on German television. This documentary shows the highs and lows of a long life, the delicate balance between Hitler and Mussolini, adaptation and resistance, box office success and cinematic art. Was he a Nazi collaborator or opposed to the Regime? Or simply an amoral survivor who never ceased moulding his own image?
Lost City of the Gladiators
The gladiator school at Carnuntum, Roman city on the Banks of the Danube, turned slaves, prisoners, and also volunteers like our hero Atticus into skilled and brutal entertainers who could be re-exported throughout the Empire. Precision, speed and spectacular technique made them true sports stars, kept in peak condition by their vegetarian diet and rigorous training. Gladiators earned well and paid private visits to wealthy women admirers. But a moment's loss of concentration in the arena was lethal, and even in death, the loser must show no emotion. For two millennia, Carnuntum's gladiator school washidden beneath cornfi elds, but archaeologist Wolfgang Neubauer's scanners uncovered the training complex, reconstructed for this drama-documentary as part of a complete virtual Roman city; while gladiator experts and re-enactors give a uniquely authentic account of a gladiator's life.
Kailash - Towards the Sacred Mountain
In a remote west Tibetan corner, one of the highest-lying and most solitary territories of our planet, a pyramid rises that is made solely of crags and ice: Mount Kailash, the holy mountain. For more than a thousand years, pilgrims have been going on a long and laborious journey, following an ancient ritual of rounding the sacred peak, in order to draw on the miraculous powers of the Kailash. The documentary is a cinematic expedition on the tracks of Sven Hedin, Heinrich Harrer and Hervert Tichy, who were all spellbound by the Kailash and its sacred power.
Hans Hass - The Man Who Discovered the Sea
For hundreds of thousands of divers and underwater specialists throughout the world the name Hans Hass is synonymous with everything that takes places under the ocean waves.
Gonsalvus - The Real Beauty and the Beast
From his birth in 1556 on Tenerife, Petrus Gonsalvus suffered from a rare condition now called «hypertrichosis» or «Ambras syndrome»: his body, including his face, was completely covered with hair, leading scholars to believe he was a talking ape. At the age of ten he was given as a gift to King Henry II of France, where he soon spoke fluent French, Italian and Latin and entertained the court with his brilliant conversation. The Queen decided to test if he really was human, and the pretty daughter of a court servant was bribed to marry Gonsalvus. But Petrus and Catherine finally fell in love and had several children; sadly, those who inherited their father's rare condition were given away to other noble courts in Europe. Meanwhile, the film meets Larry Gomez, a Mexican-American actor who lives with the same condition today, which science can now explain but cannot «cure». Will he too find someone to share his life? «Gonsalvus - The Real Beauty and the Beast», like the 18th-century fairy-tale, is the archetypal story of how ignorance and cruelty can only be overcome by love.
Genghis Khan - Rider of the Apocalypse
Genghis Khan, ruthless leader of the Mongols and sovereign over the vastest empire ever ruled by a single man, was both god and devil - not just in the Middle Ages, but for centuries to come. Luxurious historical reconstructions, cleverly enhanced with state-of-the-art CGI and compos iting techniques, make up the flesh of this program. The bone will be serious, yet exciting sci ence - not only archaeology at scenic ancient sites but also the tracing of living modern remnants of the ancient Mongol culture.
First On Mount Everest
In 1953, Edmund Hillary was the first person to conquer Mount Everest, the world's highest mountain. At least, that's what the history books tell us. But German researcher Jochen Hemmle casts doubt on this belief. Just below the summit of Mount Everest he and his team discovered the well-preserved body of George Mallory, who in 1924 had made an assault on the peak with his climbing partner Andrew Irvine. Did Mallory stand on the summit 30 years before Hillary? To find an answer to this question, we follow Jochen Hemmle on a second risky search expedition to the roof of the world.
Available in 1 x 50min and 1 x 90min.
Death at Dawn - The Emperor's Last Battleship
Premuda, June 10th, 1918 6:05 am: The Szent Istvan is sinking. The most modern battleship of the K.u.K. fleet has been hit by two torpedoes on its maiden voyage. A camera team aboard the Tegetthoff was sent out to film the first deployment of the new battleship. The planned scenes of celebration would instead become a one of a kind documentation of a horrific event. Their original footage forms the basis of this documentary, which recreates and analyses the tragedy. Historical reenactments, filmed on historic ships in Rostock and Athens, help define the atmosphere of the film. Using 3D animation and a diving expedition to the wreck of the Szent Istvan off the coast of Croatia, the filmmakers attempt to resolve the last mysteries of the ship's destruction.
Carnuntum - Metropolis in the Land of the Barbarians
According to accounts by the Roman historian Paterculus, in the year 6 A.D. a Roman army under Tiberius put up its winter camp in the Celtic Noricum.According to accounts by the Roman historian Paterculus, in the year 6 A.D. a Roman army under Tiberius put up its winter camp in the Celtic Noricum. The exact site was called Carnuntum, and it was the moment of birth of a legendary Roman metropolis upon the Danube «in the land of the Barbarians», built as a bastion against invaders from the North.Two thousand years later, this lavish documentary drama by multiaward winning producer Kurt Mündl portrays the history of and life in ancient Carnuntum.