2 / BD 210 The Holy Mountain

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Martha
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2 / BD 210 The Holy Mountain

#1 Post by Martha » Fri Feb 18, 2005 3:24 pm

The Holy Mountain

Image

"A Heroic Song from a Towering World of Heights" — German filmmaker and doctor Arnold Fanck (1889-1974) made this beautifully photographed Bergfilm, or 'mountain film', in 1926. Written in three days and nights — especially for Riefenstahl — The Holy Mountain took over a year to film in the Alps with an entourage of expert skiers and climbers.

Ostensibly a love triangle romance — between Riefenstahl's young dancer and the two explorers she encounters — Fanck relishes the glorious Alpine landscape by filming death-defying climbing, avalanche-dodging, and frenetic downhill ski racing.

After learning the ropes from Fanck, Riefenstahl's own Bergfilme flowered at UFA during the 1930s, and Fanck became her editor. This restoration is a visual feast — a fascinating look at the origins of a genre. Extras include the 3hr documentary The Wonderful, Horrible Life of Leni Riefenstahl (by Ray Müller) on disc 2.

SPECIAL FEATURES

• Extensive 2001 restoration, 2 disc set
The Wonderful, Horrible Life of Leni Riefenstahl (1993) by Ray Müller
• New 2002 score by Aljoscha Zimmerman (Dolby 2.0 Stereo & Dolby 5.1)
• Original German intertitles with English subtitles
• Booklet containing new essay by Doug Cummings
• Two RSDL discs [DVD9]

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ola t
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#2 Post by ola t » Sun Feb 20, 2005 8:53 am

Is disc 2 different in any way from Eureka's separate release of The Wonderful, Horrible Life of Leni Riefenstahl?

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Michael Kerpan
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#3 Post by Michael Kerpan » Sun Feb 20, 2005 12:20 pm

Just saw Fanck's 1937 "Daughter of the Samurai" (because it starred a still young Setsuko Hara). While this had some curiosity value -- and nice travelog-esque cinematography -- dramatically it struck me a silly rubbish (with a definite Nazi tinge). This was (in part) a (volcanic) mountain film. I wonder how similar in tone and style this is to Fanck's fims with native settings.

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#4 Post by Lino » Mon Feb 21, 2005 12:48 pm

Great review here:

http://www.dvdtimes.co.uk/content.php?contentid=11364
While the story of Fanck’s Holy Mountain is nothing special – a tragic love-triangle melodrama – it has many other interesting features. In its celebration of nature and the human form and character (transposed onto the sea and the mountain) it would cast a strong influence on the lead actress and make her own work obviously appealing to Nazi ideals. While the film’s theme and treatment may no longer be ideologically sound or politically correct, it in no way lessens the importance of the film, the impact of its beauty or the stunning artistic compositions and innovative filming techniques it helped develop. Using time-lapse photography, slow motion, POV shots and cameras on ski’s, there is no studio trickery here – it is all filmed in treacherous conditions at great risk to the actors. However dubious the story and its themes to a modern day audience, the photography and setting raise the film to another level entirely.

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#5 Post by Michael Kerpan » Mon Feb 21, 2005 1:09 pm

> it is all filmed in treacherous conditions at great risk to the
> actors

I wondered about this aspect in "Samurai's Daughter". It did seem that he was putting Setsuko Hara (and the nonentity who was the male protagonist) in real danger at the end of the film. My feeling is that this is a film maker I despise from the botrtom of my heart -- however lovely his visual composition may be.

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#6 Post by jorencain » Wed Nov 16, 2005 12:06 am

I hope this is the right place to mention this..."Holy Mountain" is available for a mere £9.49 at Bensons World right now. I don't know if any other MOC discs are on sale as well, but I couldn't pass it up at that price. I promised myself that I wouldn't buy anything after all the cash I dropped on the deepdiscountdvd sale...it's an illness, and I can't stop.

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zedz
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#7 Post by zedz » Wed Nov 16, 2005 12:20 am

I watched this the other night: a very silly film, but consistently spectacular, visually. Well worth owning, especially at a bargain price.

The camp highlight for me was when the doleful "Friend" comes across his mate, face buried in the crotch of The Woman He Loves (who as well as "innocently" two-timing the "Friend" is three-timing the Ocean). It's all uphill from there, though the fact that the "Friend" apparently didn't realise whose face was nuzzling Leni's nether regions makes his subsequent actions even more perplexing than the ones that went before (and this is a guy who has to climb a mountain whenever he gets an erection).

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#8 Post by denti alligator » Wed Nov 16, 2005 12:29 am

Having seen a couple other films of the Bergfilm genre, I can say that this one is a veritable masterpiece. I think it's far from silly--the stuff zedz points out is all there, but with so little self-reflexivity you have to scratch your head and take it at face value. I mean, the movie takes itself pretty seriously. The homoeroticism is what surprised me-- Leni actually gets in between these men. And that dance-by-the-ocean prologue is a jaw-dropper, too. Wow.

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zedz
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#9 Post by zedz » Wed Nov 16, 2005 5:45 pm

denti alligator wrote:the stuff zedz points out is all there, but with so little self-reflexivity you have to scratch your head and take it at face value. I mean, the movie takes itself pretty seriously.
You're absolutely right. I think this is a large part of the film's charm, and it's one of the defining characteristics of the entire bizarre genre. I'm not a wholesale subscriber to Kracauer's theories, but the unironic success of the mountain film genre does suggest something distinctive about the German national character of the time.

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Darth Lavender
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#10 Post by Darth Lavender » Sat Mar 03, 2007 11:17 pm

Just watched this film for the first time, and I was mostly very impressed.

It looks magnificient, as has been mentioned elsewhere. I was expecting some spectacular scenery, but this film really does manage to give the mountains character (especially that "Gothic Cathedral-esque" mountain,) and the last 20 minutes or so feature some first rate German-expressionist imagery, between the candle-light search and the hallucination, those scenes could hold their own against 'most any true 'Expressionist' film.

As for the story; not as bad as I expected. Parts move over into silliness (especially the intertitles) other parts kind of work. Riefenstahl is surprisingly compelling in one scene were she asks some philosophical questions about the attraction of mountains, the soul of nature, etc. (The dialogue was weak, but the performances in that scene did I suprising good job of making the dialogue work anyway.)

I didn't find the protagonist's actions terribly implausible. He was obviously going a little crazy when he decided to climb that mountain but, after seeing that he didn't know who he'd seen with Riefenstahl, it's still perfectly plausible that he'd choose his friend since, after all, his only reason for such a spectacularly difficult climb is to take his mind off Riefenstahl so, why not take his mountain-climber buddy along (probably needed someone, just in case he fell, anyway.)

Find the dance scenes a tad tedious/silly (great opening sequence, with the ocean etc. just far too much dancing,) but, then, I've always found ballet, etc. pretty boring (one of these, I really must make an effort to understand what's so great about it, and develop an appreciation,) the skiing scenes were great, but boring for another reason; I just wanted to see more of that spectacular nature & mountain footage.

All in all, very glad I bought this one, that last 20 minutes really brings it into the realm of 'classic' for me.

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#11 Post by HerrSchreck » Sun Mar 04, 2007 2:15 am

Darth Lavender wrote:I was expecting some spectacular scenery, but this film really does manage to give the mountains character (especially that "Gothic Cathedral-esque" mountain,) and the last 20 minutes or so feature some first rate German-expressionist imagery

Find the dance scenes a tad tedious/silly (great opening sequence, with the ocean etc. just far too much dancing,) but, then, I've always found ballet, etc. pretty boring (one of these, I really must make an effort to understand what's so great about it, and develop an appreciation)
The photography is about as first rate as is possible-- perhaps the finest outdoor photography I've ever seen in my life... but I'd take exception to the tag "expressionist"; these mountain films functioned as a sort of anti-expressionist ethic, getting away from the artificiality and studio-bound aesthetics of the expressionist cinema of Weine, Pick, Karl Grune, earlier Murnau, Leni, and some of the other films featuring the scripts of Carl Mayer.

On the second quote, I'd signal to you that you're nowhere alone regarding your perplexity over those absurd "dance" scenes. They look like the caniptions of a chimp with a broken leg trying to scare somebody by doing a bad imitation of Godzilla, and eliciting laughter instead. It's really really bad, and reminds one-- just like Coppola with his daughter in GODFATHER III-- how careful one should be to not allow one's affection for someone to wrap their eyes & perception with blinders to just how much the loved one can glut a picture with amateurishness. Fanck was completely infatuated with Riefenstahl at the time and would've rocked to & fro with lavender love-sighs at footage of her taking a rancid beer crap.

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#12 Post by peerpee » Sun Mar 04, 2007 9:20 am

Muahaha! -- When we reprint the sleeves for the next pressing can I add that last line to the box blurb? :)

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#13 Post by Cinesimilitude » Sun Mar 04, 2007 9:27 am

I'd buy it for that quote.

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#14 Post by Joshua Dago » Sun Jul 08, 2007 8:55 pm

I just saw this movie + the Riefenstahl documentary. it got me really interested in the Fanck/Pabst co-directed "Die Weiße Hölle vom Piz Palü". i might pick up the Kino dvd, but it would be even better to have it between my MoC releases of the Holy Mountain and Diary of a Lost Girl.

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#15 Post by Tommaso » Mon Jul 09, 2007 6:27 am

Alternatively, you might pick up the German disc from arte edition/arthaus, which is native PAL and doesn't suffer from the usual problems of a PAL/NTSC-conversion, and most importantly, has the original German titles (no subs, though). On the other hand, the Kino has a fantastic 60 min. interview with Riefenstahl from 2002, which is not to be missed. So, indeed the best idea would be that MoC do their version in PAL and include that interview. But there doesn't seem to be any plans to release that film at the moment.

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#16 Post by reservoirxusual » Mon Jul 09, 2007 6:14 pm

Hey, I'm not sure if anyone else has wondered this, but was the disc for Holy Mountain pressed differently from other MOC titles? I bought my copy off of CD Wow and the layout of the artwork on the disc itself looks different from my other MOC's (Sunshine, Savage Innocents, Shoeshine.) It also came in an Amaray case, which my other ones didn't. The film itself is jerky too, likes frames are skipped, and it looks like a technical or disc error, it doesn't look as if it's a flaw in the film. I am using a region free NTSC/PAL DVD player, which plays other imports fine, so I don't think it's a problem with the player. Hopefully I'm being clear about this. I'm just wondering if my copy is a bootleg, or if the disc was just produced differently from other MOC titles. The numbers on the underside of the disc are: DVD17051 EKA40072/L0 01 and DVD17052 EKA40072/L1 02. Any help would be greatly appreciated, thanks.

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#17 Post by peerpee » Mon Jul 09, 2007 8:25 pm

THE HOLY MOUNTAIN was the first ever MoC release (in June 2004), followed 4 months later by Dreyer's MICHAEL, and 3 months after that by TARTUFFE. THE HOLY MOUNTAIN and TARTUFFE had already been pre-authored by Eureka and were sat on the shelf waiting for release. It was with MICHAEL that we had the chance to start from scratch, and pretty much everything else after that has been MoC-overseen.

The problems you describe sound unusual, and not like we know this disc should operate on a native PAL system. There was an authoring quirk to some earlier titles which made them incompatible with certain chipsets of multisystem DVD players which handle PAL conversions in a unique way. It could be that issue, and would be interesting to see if you can play the disc on a different make of player/different setup.

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#18 Post by reservoirxusual » Mon Jul 09, 2007 10:59 pm

Thanks for the quick response! That would account for the design differences between The Holy Mountain and the other MOC titles. I shall try the disc on a different player when I get a chance. I was just hoping that my copy wasn't a bootleg, which it now seems like it's not. Thanks again for your help!

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#19 Post by Tommaso » Tue Jul 10, 2007 7:41 am

I just looked up the numbers, and am convinced yours is not a bootleg. The slight jerkiness I also notice, but it definitely is the film (though I'm not sure how bad it is with you) and isn't so unusual taking other films by Fanck into consideration. There might indeed be some frames missing from time to time, but I never find it annoying.
This MoC disc is totally fine, I think, even if it was authored by Eureka. The only shortcoming is that the subs are burned-in on the Müller documentary, and I'm sure this wouldn't happen anymore today. But apart from this, a very wonderful set!

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#20 Post by reservoirxusual » Tue Jul 10, 2007 4:41 pm

Thanks a lot. What you said about the numbers was very reassuring. Holy Mountain was the first film by Fanck I saw, but I definitely intend on seeing more now. His ability to integrate and fully realize real life environments is really stunning, especially considering other films made during the era. I haven't watched the documentary yet, but fully intend to soon.

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Re: 2 The Holy Mountain

#21 Post by peerpee » Sat Apr 21, 2012 5:50 pm

I'll be giving away a copy of THE HOLY MOUNTAIN next week on my twitter feed @shittydeath -- it's a rare, sealed, first edition with the completely different sleeve design. This was the first ever MoC release, and as far as I'm aware (correct me if I'm wrong) it's technically the rarest MoC edition of them all. Much rarer than MoC METROPOLIS SteelBook for example.

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Re: 2 The Holy Mountain

#22 Post by peerpee » Fri Apr 27, 2012 11:09 am

Giving it away tonight! (Friday) at 9pm UK time.

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Re: 2 The Holy Mountain

#23 Post by RossyG » Fri Apr 27, 2012 12:16 pm

I'm giving it away most Friday nights at 9pm. I never get any takers, though. ;)

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HerrSchreck
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Re: 2 The Holy Mountain

#24 Post by HerrSchreck » Sat Apr 28, 2012 7:22 pm

peerpee wrote:Giving it away tonight! (Friday) at 9pm UK time.
Don't I get a free copy for providing the "lavender love sighs/rancid beer crap" liner copy above?

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Re: 2 The Holy Mountain

#25 Post by kidc85 » Fri Mar 20, 2015 1:56 pm

Thought this was great. It's interesting how if you had told me that this was an early directorial effort from Riefenstahl, I would have completely believed you. There's so much of what Riefenstahl would perfect: a Vorspiel that introduces key themes in a definite symbolic fashion; wondrous use of slow motion; a rarely-beaten sense of dynamism (if all sport was filmed like this, I would be a fan); relentless invention that's not just for its own sake but clearly linked to the aims of the film; the use of surroundings to define and prove the characters' superiority... People have spoken of the mountain (or nature) being a character itself - but it more feels like a token which the characters use to prove something about themselves. The Vorspiel sees Leni raise her arms in conjunction with the sea raising itself up on the rocks - in the context of the film, which consists of men slicing across the mountainside in a battle for supremacy, and snatching a human victory from the jaws of defeat to the mountain (in that the mountain never 'beat' the human spirit), is she moving in conjunction with nature or is it verging on depicting her acting upon nature itself? Philosophically I can't get on with the film at all, but damn if this isn't a thrilling, engaging film.

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