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Stürme über dem Mont Blanc

Avalanche
Storm over Mont Blanc / Der Wetterwart des Mont Blanc / Über den Wolken

Germany 1930
produced by
Gabriel Levy, Harry R.Sokal for Aafa-Film
directed by Arnold Fanck
starring Leni Riefenstahl, Sepp Rist, Ernst Udet, Mathias Wieman, Friedrich Kayssler, Alfred Beierle, Ernst Petersen, David Zogg, Beni Führer, Rähmi, Guzzi Lantschner, Benno Leubner, Luggi Foeger
written by Arnold Fanck, music by Paul Dessau

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Hella (Leni Riefenstahl), who works at the observatory in the valley, is in love with meteorologist Hannes (Sepp Rist), who leads a lonely life in the permanently snowed-in weather station on top of the Mont Blanc. The two have never met and only communicate via morse code, but still ...

Eventually, Hella and her father (Friedrich Kayssler) pay Hannes an unannounced visit, and Hella and Hannes spend a romantic time climbing up and down the glaciers - but as much as the glaciers might be the source for romance, they nevertheless remain a major threat ... and thus, while his daughter is out with Hannes, her dad, taking a walk, is caught in an avalanche and killed. This leaves Hella heartbroken, and though she still is in love with Hannes, she can't stay on the Mont Blanc another day. Hannes gives her the address of a musician friend of his in the valley, Petersen (Mathias Wieman), if she ever needs some shoulder to cry on.

Hella pays a visit to Peterson a few days later, and finds him gravely ill - and now she makes it the new meaning of her life to nurse him back to health, something he mistakes for love, and thus writes his friend Hannes of his impending engagement.

Hannes is just about to leave the Mont Blanc for good to reunite with Hella when Petersen's letter reaches him - and breaks his heart. Now Hannes doesn't want to leave the mountain anymore, ever ... but then, during one of his expeditions, he freezes both his hands, and when returning to the weather station, he has to find out the fire has gone out, and his hands are in no position to light a match. This leaves him with but two alternatives, either to try to make it to the valley, or to freeze to death. But now a storm has set in, has cut off most roads down to the valley, and Hannes's skies break, too. The only thing he can do now is to morse SOS ...

Hella receives Hannes's signal, and she personally leads a rescue expedition to the Mont Blanc, an expedition that just about makes it to the summit despite all setbacks, and at the weatherstation, on which the storm has taken its toll, Hannes is found more dead than alive, but as soon as she embraces him, one can't shake the feeling that everything will be ok ...

German ace (fighter-)pilot Ernst Udet stars as himself and does quite a bit of flying.

 

A mountain film that's often impressive: The location-shots are breathtaking, and are captured in a likewise manner, the action sequences are very slickly executed and show a director with an eye for dynamic filmmaking, the many outdoor shots give the movie an air of adventure rarely achieved even within the genre, and the film is extremely atmospheric from start to finish ...

... and yet, I wouldn't exactly call Stürme über dem Mont Blanc a masterpiece per se: Sure,t he film is a feast for the eye, no doubt about that, but its plot quite simply leaves A LOT to be desired, it's cheesy as hell, features quite a few plotholes, and is weak on character motivation and development. And on top of that, the cast isn't all that great either.

All that said, the film is still well worth a look - just don't get too excited about it ...

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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