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Fanck's reputation for sadism is clearly to the fore in the footage of a real skier possibly even Rist himself: Fanck thought nothing of putting actor's in harm's way trying to out ski a very real and very spectacular avalanche in a film that has little truck with special effects a few shots of lightning do look fake but the rest of the storm footage is very obviously the real thing.
And rather than just leave him in a hole, the film keeps digging it deeper: Mont Blanc never becomes a character in the way that Pitz Palu does, but the footage is still impressive and exudes a sense of real danger.
As in Fanck's other Berg films, you're constantly aware that both cast and crew put themselves in harm's way, but as compelling as the life or death climax is, there are still some good moments to be found elsewhere. There's a fascinating scene of Udet cutting his plane's engine and gliding past the cabin so he can carry out a conversation with Rist below, some energetic and visually striking footage of skiers zigzagging around each other on a scavenger hunt, a crosscut sequence contrasting Rist's Christmas in his cabin with its tiny tree with the huge tree in the hotel below nature in the raw versus nature tamed, perhaps?
While it's nominally a talking picture, it's really a silent movie, the bulk of the film rarely featuring dialogue or even much in the way of sound effects and many scenes played almost mute. People only really talk down in the valleys below: Sometimes that's just as well, since Udet's dialogue in particular isn't terribly well synched and none of the other actors have anything worth saying.
Yet in other respects it's still way beyond what Hollywood was doing at the time, avoiding the studio as much as possible to awe its audience with its imagery. Today it's pretty much the least remembered of Fanck's films, despite its belated US release as Avalanche ending up a source of stock material like many foreign films some of the amazing avalanche footage found its way into Capra's Lost Horizon.
Even the minute print on Kino's NTSC DVD shows a bit more wear and tear than their other Fanck films, as if no-one thought it important enough to store properly or restore, but it's a decent survival story as long as you're not looking for a complex plot or rich characterisation.
With stunning footage of mountaineers looking down on clouds below as they float by or pour over outcrops like waterfalls, it's the kind of thing you suspect Fanck was happier with: The first the cinematography and editing as supervised by director Arnold Fanck, one of the creators of the German "Mountain Movie"--a genre in which the purity of life on the montain is essentially an abstract character.
The second is that the film stars a young Leni Riefenstahl, a gifted but notorious artist who would go on to become Adolph Hitler's favorite actress, director, and creator of two landmark pieces of Nazi propaganda: That having been said, there's not actually a lot to this film. Hannes Sepp Rist lives at a remote weather station on Mont Blanc.
Hella Riefenstahl is, unexpectedly, an astronomer who lives in the village below. Although they have never met, they develop a friendship through Morse Code, and Hella ultimately decides to visit Hannes, taking her father Friedrich Kayssler as chaperone.
Unfortunately, tragedy ensues and her father is killed in an accident. Hella leaves the mountainside, where she has a brief interest in a musician, but she cannot escape the call of Mont Blanc, and she returns to Hannes just in time to avert yet another tragedy.
Although the film is of the sound era and contains a few bits of spoken dialogue, it is essentially a silent film. The actors are adequate, although I found the endlessly hearty physical culture a bit wearing after a time. Riefenstahl is not remarkable for looks or, frankly, for her talent as an actress in this film--but she does have an unusual quality that is hard to define and which is unexpectedly appealing; it is interesting to see her before she was sucked into the Nazi machine.
And then, of course, there is that cinematography, which is nothing short of spectacular, and which includes notions about film that Riefenstahl would later use as a director. The film is--I think it will appeal to those who are interested in European film and films of this period in particular.
But it really is best left, I think, to film scholars. It is watchable, the photography is memorable, but there's not much else to it.
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Read more about DVD formats. Share your thoughts with other customers. Write a customer review. See all customer images. Showing of 11 reviews. Top Reviews Most recent Top Reviews. There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later. This film was beautifully restored. One wouldn't imagine it's age by just watching it. One of the "end-of-era" silent films, technically impressive, and starring a woman who out-lived all her enemies, and remains one of the great film makers of the 20th century.
Made long before special effects became merely technical matters, the mountain climbers in this film were the real thing, and the risk-taking boggles one's mind. By far the best reasons to buy this film are the gorgeous photography there are few more natural subjects for cinematography than men carrying torches through a snowy night, and the nitrate-era results are truly spectacular , and the climbing work which is hair-raisingly real.
Whether you'll find the late Ms. Riefenstahl's dancing impressive or hilariously galumphing is another matter, and a clue to how you'll react to the storyline as a whole, since it's unadulterated 19th century romanticism, full of titanic emotions and urges which to modern eyes, border at times on the psychopathic. The point of the mountain film genre was that it involved Nietszchean supermen and women going one-on-one with the mountain and the abyss; and though it's a little too easy to read the coming of the Nazis into any German film of the 20s, it's less of a stretch than most to see it in the uncritical admiration of the heroically self-destructive urges of some of these characters.
Riefenstahl, of course, would go on to be the most notable filmmaker of the Nazi era, while Trenker, the embodiment of German manhood in this era, would work internationally and bow out of the business as the 30s progressed, rather than support the Nazi effort-- in fact, several of his mids films manage at least mild condemnations of Nazi attitudes. However you react to the characters and the film, it certainly offers a window on the time and culture from which it came.
The Holy Mountain is considered one of the best Bergfilms mountain movies ever, and the final scene "His world", in which we see the allucination of the protagonist, as he dies up high on a mountain, is an absolute masterpiece. The movie is interesting for several reasons. The dancing of Leni Riefenstahl, the new music of Aljoscha Zimmermann a real pity the original soundtrack of Edmund Meisel has been lost , the experimentation with blue light, and the gorgeous images from the Alps.
It is somewhat interesting to note that the initial dance scene Diotima on the sea had originally been thought for Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, something almost impossible to fathom. I liked this silent German film with young Leni Riefenstahl. Watching it was certainly an experience. Even if Karl,a respected engineer, is an adult man in his 30s and Vigo is young, barely out of his teens, their friendship is solid. They share a common passion of skiing and climbing and they are good at it.
Then one day Karl, a very handsome man, meets the famous dancer Diotima Leni Riefenstahl and very quickly they fall in love. Vigo is unaware of it, therefore when one day he meets Diotima himself, he doesn't know that she is his friends lover And then the film really begins. This movie is reputed to be one of the finest examples of "bergfilme" mountain films , a genre of German cinema which was very popular in the s.
I admit that it is the only one I saw until now, so I cannot compare it with others, but it is a good, solid, well done thing. There is a good mixture of romance, friendship, dancing, mountain images sometimes half-mystical - and tragedy The film was, very deservedly, a great succes.
As consequence Leni Riefenstahl appeared in at least four more "bergfilme" before becoming a director in and continuing her brilliant but controversial career as director and producer of Nazi propaganda films She lived a long life and died in , aged WWI veteran Luis Trenker also continued a long and succesful career as actor and later also director until the 70s - he died in , aged On another hand young Ernst Petersen, for whom it was the first role ever, appeared only in three more films - he died in I liked this film.
It has a lot of charm proper to those old silent black and white movies and the mastery of German post WWI school of acting and directing is visible in it in full. See all 11 reviews. Amazon Giveaway allows you to run promotional giveaways in order to create buzz, reward your audience, and attract new followers and customers. Learn more about Amazon Giveaway.