What do an Indian secret agent, a teenage burglar and Austria’s most famous empress all have in common? The answer: they are all characters in awesome movies filmed in Innsbruck (10 points if you got that one right!). Innsbruck’s stunning mountain backdrop has attracted filmmakers from around the globe, from low-budget arthouse creatives to major Bollywood directors. So if you’ve already binged everything good on Netflix and fancy a movie night with a difference, check out these three little-known movies that were filmed right here in Innsbruck.
Sissi: An Austrian Classic
If you’re not from Austria, you probably won’t know the film, “Sissi”. If you are from Austria, you almost certainly will! This 1955 classic is a love story based on the real-life events of Empress Elisabeth, known as Sissi, as she marries Emperor Franz Joseph I. Sounds cheesy? Well, it is a little. But the cinematography is beautiful and the acting brings this slightly cheesy story to life—lead actress Romy Schneider became an overnight star, despite being just 17 years old at the time.
Where can you spot Innsbruck? Sissi and Franz Joseph spend a good portion of the movie frolicking in the mountains. And one of those mountains is Innsbruck’s own Hafelekar, accessed by the Nordkettenbahn cable car. The views up there are enough to make anyone fall in love!
Home Is Here: Arthouse Intrigue
“Home Is Here” is another love story but could not be more different from “Sissi”. The story centres around Hannah, an Innsbruck teenager with Czech roots (the film was an Austrian-Czech co-production). One day she breaks into the luxurious house of a wealthy but lonely young accountant, Max, but does not steal anything. As she repeatedly breaks into Max’s villa over the following months, she begins to move things around and leave little notes for the house’s owner, and the pair slowly fall in love without ever meeting face-to-face. This is a slow but beautiful movie, questioning what it means to feel truly at home.
Where can you spot Innsbruck? Everywhere! The film was shot almost entirely in the city and the surrounding area. And while there are plenty of stunning views of the mountains, it also shows some of the city’s less touristic side. The high-rise blocks of flats in the O-Dorf, the old Olympic village that is now home to more than 7000 of the city’s residents, get a lot of screen time.
Tiger Zinda Hai: Bollywood Action
If you’re a Bollywood fan, you will know “Tiger Zinda Hai”. This Hindi action thriller is one of the highest-grossing Indian films ever made, and my word is it good. There’s action, there’s adventure, and there’s a beautiful musical romance scene set in the heart of Innsbruck’s old town. Because a romantic dinner for two by the Golden Roof is the sure way to any Pakistani spy’s heart!
The basic plot of the film is that secret agents (and married couple) Tiger and Zoya are pulled away from their romantic life in the Alps to rescue a group Indian and Pakistani nurses being held hostage in Iraq. After multiple car chases, shootouts and spontaneous musical numbers, Tiger and Zoya are locked and loaded and ready to take on the Iraqi militants. Will they succeed in rescuing the nurses before the CIA’s planned airstrike? I highly recommend you watch it to find out.
Where can you spot Innsbruck? The movie’s key romance song, “Dil Diyan Gallan” was shot on location in the Innsbruck old town and the Hofburg palace, as well as in the nearby village of Praxmar. How many landmarks can you spot in the video below?
title photo © Yash Raj Films