Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|The Holy Mountain|
Actors: Leni Riefenstahl, Luis Trenker, Ernst Petersen, Frida Richard, Friedrich Schneider
Director: Arnold Fanck
Genres: Indie & Art House, Classics, Drama
Studio: Kino International Release Date: 08/12/2003 Run time: 105 minutes
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Climb Every Mountain.
Chip Kaufmann | Asheville, N.C. United States | 08/17/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"If you have never experienced the 1920's German genre of the mountain film, there is no better introduction than this. In fact it may be the only one you need unless you truly love the genre as most of the films are carbon copies of each other. What gives this film added interest is the debut of Leni Riefenstahl as a performer (and occasional director). Riefenstahl began her career as a dancer in the Isadora Duncan mold until a knee injury ended her career. Nevertheless she does a fair amount of dancing in this film especially in the beginning. While it may look somewhat silly today and Riefenstahl is far from the prototype of today's dancers, it is an excellent example of what Duncan's free form dancing was like and some of it is remarkably effective. Director Arnold Fanck wrote the screenplay in three days after being given a photo of Riefenstahl by co-star Louis Trenker and so began her brilliant and highly controversial career.
The story (standard for this kind of film) is the classic love triangle with a lot of German mysticism about Man and Nature thrown in to give it "depth". The real star of the film is the stunning cinematography by Hans Schneeberger (how appropriate) and Sepp Allgeier. There are incredible shots of breathtaking beauty of mountain crags and vistas taken in what seem like impossible positions for a cameraman. The actors were really there and labored under the harsh conditions as recalled by Riefenstahl in a clip from a documentary which is also included (although professional climbers were used in the more harrowing sequences). I found myself engrossed by the obvious sincerity of the film despite the shallowness of the storyline.
The print is in fairly good shape with the proper tinting restored which enhances the mountain scenes. The new musical score by Aljoscha Zimmerman strikes just the right balance between Classical and New Age depending on what the story requires. While certainly not a film that will appeal to everyone, it is worth seeing for the astonishing photography and for the young Riefenstahl who is radiant in her film debut."
Stunning photography, uncomfortable storyline
Michael Gebert | Chicago, IL USA | 09/14/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
""We didn't know how to fake it then, so we really did it." That could be the ethos of many silent films, and every film in the "mountain film" genre, of which this is a good example (and the only one readily available on video). 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 mid-30s 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."
Great film but NOT in German! (Kein Deutscher Intertitel!)
Kelli Mitchell | Decatur, GA USA | 09/13/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Although I imagined that this film would be shown as authentically as was possible, I was terribly disappointed that I had no option to view it with the original, German, intertitles. There were, of course, English ones, that were quite well created using the German ones as a guide, typestyle and all, which I thought was a great touch, but I did expect that I would at least have the option of seeing it in its original form, and then also have the option for English subtitles, or maybe even better, intertitles. As a student of German, and that being one of the reasons I ordered this DVD, I was very disapppointed in its lack of "original film as created" option. Otherwise, a great mountain film, with specatacular natural vistas captured and a feeling of the time and the place which lingers on in a modern person's mind and imagination! Quite a great experience, but just a little disappointing for the German student!"
A drama poem with scenes from nature
math climber | 10/29/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"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."