Anim.: Ladislaus Tuszyński. Prod.: Astoria-Film. 35mm. L.: 388 m. 20 f/s. Bn.
Austria’s film industry had a brief period of prosperity in the early 1920s. A few companies produced around 70 feature films and around 60 one-reelers per year, a lot for a small country. In 1918 the newly founded production company Astoria Filmfabrik even set up its own animation department. The academic painter and caricaturist Ladislaus Tuszyński worked as an advisor from the start before he was hired permanently as a cartoonist and director in 1920. Amaranta is the second part of the animation detective serial Aus den Memoiren des berühmten Detektivs Harry Packs. Tuszyński was able to realise only two episodes of the serial, and the first one is considered lost.
This medium-length animation tells a bizarre love story set in a show-business milieu. In a hierarchical relationship, the weak one – Gimbo, a dancer and musician – wins and manages to free his beloved ‘Lady without a belly’ from the clutches of the dominant Mr Bloom, the director of the revue theatre. In contrast to the racism rampant in many animations of that time, Amaranta surprises us with an intercultural love story narrated in a very romantic way. It may look like this film offers an instance of the much-praised tolerance of the Roaring Twenties, but it might not be so simple. Amaranta could also be interpreted in another way, namely, that such a relationship can only be possible or imaginable in a marginal subculture like the one in this story. I think this conclusion is quite convincing for the 1920s (and also for today).