(aka 'Der heilige Berg' or 'The Holy Mountain' or The Sacred Mountain')

directed by Arnold Fanck
Germany 1926

Dr. Arnold Fanck (1889-1974) can be viewed as a significant pioneer of independent filmmaking and his film, The Holy Mountain (1926), as a landmark entry in the Bergfilme genre. The production, however, was riddled with problems. Unseasonably warm weather in the German Alps melted the expensive ice palace set constructed on a frozen lake; snow turned to slush; various injuries afflicted Riefenstahl, Schneider, and cinematographer Hans “Snowflea” Schneeberger; filming was delayed, and UFA threatened to abandon the project. Mimicking the film’s archetypical romantic triangle, affectionate rivalries boiled within the small crew. According to Riefenstahl (whose memoirs contain much melodrama), Fanck was deeply in love with her, but she wasn’t interested. Instead, she and Trenker were in love, a situation Fanck continually tried to undermine by privately suggesting to Trenker that Riefenstahl and Schneeberger were secretly having an affair. When the winds shifted and cold weather returned, it took great professionalism for everyone to sleep in the same winter cabin without chaos ensuing. Despite everything, the film was clearly a formative experience for Riefenstahl, who absorbed as much about filmmaking as she could. When Fanck was summoned to UFA to determine the film’s fate, Riefenstahl took it upon herself to film the flower-filled springtime scenes in Interlaken. (According to her, the high quality of the rushes convinced UFA to keep the production.) When Fanck was unable to shoot the nighttime scenes of the rescue party searching at night with their flares, Riefenstahl directed those scenes as well, even, according to her memoirs, after a magnesium torch burst beside her and singed half her face. (“I tried to put out the flames with my left hand and keep cranking the camera with my right hand until the scene was done.”) The visual power of the film is undeniable, with its monumental compositions emphasizing towering rock formations, natural light cascading over craggy surfaces, and the crashing waves of the sea. Although Fanck was known as a realist (he detested makeup or stunt doubles and insisted on shooting on location) the film boasts poetic uses of dissolves, superimpositions, silhouettes, time-lapse cinematography, and, of course, slow motion montages, the latter of which clearly anticipates Riefenstahl’s veneration of pool divers in Olympia (1938). The ice palace was reconstructed and its sequence is strikingly lit, a carryover of expressionist techniques. Fanck had obviously learned his craft in the preceding years; considerations of screen direction and consistency of movement from shot to shot are carefully maintained, while his use of irises and masking illustrate his eternal passion for nature photography.

by Doug Cummings (excerpted from the enclosed booklet essay in the Eureka disc)


Theatrical Release: December 17th, 1926 - Berlin, Germany

Reviews    DVD Reviews

DVD Review: Eureka (2 discs) -  Region 2 - PAL

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Distribution Eureka - Region 2- PAL
Runtime 1:45:31
Video 1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: ? mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s
Audio Silent with score (Dolby Digital 2.0 Dolby) , (Dolby Digital 5.1) 
Subtitles Removable English subtitles over original German intertitles

Release Information:
Studio: Eureka Video

Aspect Ratio:
Original aspect Ratio 1.33:1

Edition Details:

• The Wonderful Horrible Life of Leni Riefenstahl (documentary by Ray Muller | 1993 | 180 mins)
• Extensive 2001 restoration | New 2002 score by Aljoscha Zimmerman presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo and Dolby Digital 5.1
• Original German intertitles with English subtitles | Two RSDL dual-layered discs [DVD9] | Booklet containing new essay

DVD Release Date: June 21st, 2004

Keep Case
Chapters: 24


This Eureka release features original German intertitles (unlike the Kino R1 release which we will be comparing eventually).
This is the first release (spine #2 though!) in the Masters of Cinema Series from Eureka (the knowledgeable chaps at  www.mastersofcinema.org are curating a series of classic and world cinema in conjunction with the Eureka experts and this will see the re-release of many older Eureka titles in the future. We're told that METROPOLIS (Lang) will be #1, and MIKAEL (Dreyer) is #3).
This extensive 2001 restoration is based on two nitrate copies of the original negative ­ one tinted from the Bundesarchiv-Filmarchiv in Berlin, the other, black & white from the Fondazione Cineteca Italiana, Milan. With the support of the Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau Foundation.
On disc 2 of this set is the complete 3-hour documentary "The Wonderful, Horrible Life of Leni Riefenstahl" by Ray Müller. This documentary was only excerpted on the Kino R1 release of  The Holy Mountain (indeed, Kino sell this documentary on its own for $50!)
Both discs are RSDL (DVD9). Magnificent for all film fans. out of

Gary W. Tooze

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Gary Tooze

Many Thanks...