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42 of 43 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Climb Every Mountain.
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...
Published on August 17, 2003 by Chip Kaufmann

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Holy Mountain
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...
Published on September 13, 2009 by Timothy B. Lynch


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42 of 43 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Climb Every Mountain., August 17, 2003
By 
Chip Kaufmann (Asheville, NC United States) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Holy Mountain (DVD)
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.
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31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great film but NOT in German! (Kein Deutscher Intertitel!), September 13, 2004
This review is from: The Holy Mountain (DVD)
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!
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34 of 40 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Stunning photography, uncomfortable storyline, September 14, 2003
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This review is from: The Holy Mountain (DVD)
"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.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A drama poem with scenes from nature, October 29, 2004
This review is from: The Holy Mountain (DVD)
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.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars the climbing's the thing, November 15, 2009
By 
Muzzlehatch (the walls of Gormenghast) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: The Holy Mountain (DVD)
Most famous now, certainly, for containing the first starring role from actress and dancer, and later director Leni Riefenstahl, this was director Arnold Fanck's second "mountain film" and in late 20s Germany perhaps it didn't really stand out amongst the many other examples, including Alfred Hitchcock's now-lost THE MOUNTAIN EAGLE released the same year. And Riefenstahl's performance isn't really enough of a reason to see the film unless one has a significant interest in her; she's not really that good, rather amateurish here, and her dancing though decent enough seems entirely of the pagan/ritualistic type and gets rather tedious after a while. But with few mountain films still surviving - and probably none in this condition, and with as famous a pedigree - this is as good an approach as any to this forgotten genre.

It's an old story, too -- the love triangle, in this case a mistaken one as Diotima (Riefenstahl) falls instantly in love with mountaineer/ski instructor Karl (Luis Trenker, magnetic and giving far and away the best performance here) only to have his younger friend Vigo (Ernst Peterson) fall for her. Tragedy is the end result, but not before we get to see an awful lot of great mountain climbing, cross-country skiing, and ski jumping footage, some of which is still spectacular today. It's the photography and action sequences that make the film worth a view, not the stilted storyline, or Riefenstahl's lengthy dance numbers. Curiously the film seems to have a rather pagan, earthy attitude towards God and nature, only to have that disrupted right at the end by a very Christian-seeming "FAITH".

The Kino DVD is quite beautiful and alternates between bluish and sepia tinting, but I have to take issue with the music, apparently scored and performed specifically for the film by a small ensemble; it's nice enough on its own but doesn't fit the Teutonic grandeur or wildness to my ears...it would have been more appropriate as a Buster Keaton or silent western score, it seemed to me. My advice is to turn down the music and crank your own Wagner, Bruckner or perhaps best of all, Mahler.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Its world premier on December 17, 1926, September 16, 2009
This review is from: The Holy Mountain (DVD)
Two Nitrate Copies Served as the basis for this reconstruction: one color tinted elements for the Bundesarchive/Filmarchive, Berlin, and one in black and white from Fondazion Ceneteca Italiana, Milan.

All the shots taken outdoors were actually made in the Alps over the course of six years.

This is the story of a girl dancer from the Grand Hôtel Diotima (Leni Riefenstahl) loves nature and the sea "she seems almost holy!" She is lured to the mountains by Karl (Luis Trenker) and his young buddy Vigo (Ernst Petersen). Karl plans to marry Diotima and is shocked to find her stroking the head of a stranger. How could this happen? The there is a strange turn of events as Karl invites Vigo the do a little climbing on a dangerous mountain in bad weather. He has to get her out of his system somehow. Karl" You're my best friend. Come with me. We'll be mad together." Meantime Mother (Frida Richard) knows it all. Will Karl suspect it was Vigo that was being stroked? If so what will happen up there just the tow of them in isolation?

Mother confronts Diotima, "Was one man not enough for you?"

This is one of Lini's mountain series of films. Notice that the mountains and the clouds (shot in elapse time) are not filler or backdrop, but the main character in the film.

Storm Over Mont Blanc
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Holy Mountain, September 13, 2009
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This review is from: The Holy Mountain (DVD)
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. Cujones for sure!
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5.0 out of 5 stars A landmark film!, August 20, 2009
This review is from: The Holy Mountain (DVD)
Over all these years, "The Holy Mountain" explores what we might qualify as an Epic of the challenging nature, far beyond our human and titanic efforts. The eternal snows, the prominent mountains, the risky cliffs that constitute and nurture by themselves, the untamed adventure spirit for all those climbers.

The triangle of love between two men and an alluring dancer (the attractive Leni Riefensthal) is the secondary plot. What it really counts is the grandeur of nature surmounts all our sorrows, passions and everlasting loves.

The phlegmatic competition on the snow race and the allusive close ups at the theater ignite the passion by her in these two gentlemen. One of them is a mature-aged and the other is just a kid, dazzled by this radiant beauty.

This a true masterpiece of the German Cinema. A must-have for all the hard fan movie lovers.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, August 24, 2014
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This review is from: The Holy Mountain (DVD)
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The Holy Mountain
The Holy Mountain by Arnold Fanck (DVD - 2003)
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