I just cannot believe this was a student film.
Or, for that matter, a short film.
The visuals are stunning. Sure, some of it was finding good locations, or redecorating them in surprisingly effective ways. But even big budget films struggle to look this good.
It was made by a German film student named Michael Pohl, who would go on to make the longer and more ambitious film, Vortex (2001), as his graduation project.
Somewhere in the future, a deadly virus has ravaged the world, but a scientist, Galen Anderson, whose daughter is dying of the plague, believes that a long extinct plant would have been the cure.
Fortunately, the research facility where he works has a time machine. He just has to talk the head of the project, York Cortex (cult favorite Udo Kier) into letting him go.
But Cortex refuses, for fear that they will change the present if they get off the path in the distant past…
You don’t have to look too hard to recognize that Ausgestorben was inspired by a certain legendary Ray Bradbury story. But it goes off in its own unique direction, and ends on a final ironic note which is almost as devastating as Ray’s ending — only in a very different way.
And that’s more than enough to keep this one from being a mere copy and instead a unique and inspired story all of its own.
By any standard, it is a better film than his later, feature length movie. It looks solid, and realistic, with most of it apparently shot on real locations. There’s obviously a fair amount of CGI as well, only it blends in seamlessly most of the time. I’m not sure you can find too many films from 1995 which use their CGI half as well.
While Vortex got a somewhat limited video release, Ausgestorben has only appeared on DVD with his later film, and then only in a few foreign releases.
But, if you keep your eyes open, it does turn up now and then on Youtube, and you can currently find an auto-subbed version there. At a mere fifteen minutes long, it’s hard to invent reasons for not watching it.
You might even have to go into the Jurassic to find one…
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