The Holy Mountain, directed by Arnold Fanck, is a ???mountain film,??? a genre in German cinema that became very popular in the 1920??™s.
Fanck made this genre popular when he directed the film ???The Wonders of Skiing??? in 1919. He was originally a professional mountain climber who began to create fictional films about mountain climbing after he saw Mont Blanc in 1913, directed by Frank Ormiston-Smith. The Holy Mountain was released in 1926 and is responsible for launching the career of Leni Riefenstahl. Riefenstahl began her career as a dancer and made the effort to meet Fanck while he was filming. Once they had met Riefenstahl convinced Fanck to cast her as the main character of his next movie, which would be The Holy Mountain.The Holy Mountain??? is a story of a love triangle set high up in the Alps. Riefenstahl plays Diotima, the love interest of two mountain climbers. They go to see her dance together and both fall in love with her.
To express his love ???the friend,??? immediately goes climbing in search of the most beautiful mountain to propose to Diotima on. While the friend is in search of his perfect mountain the young Vigo attempts to impress Diotima by winning a skiing contest. Diotima is in love with the friend, but plays along with the young Vigo??™s flirting. The friend however sees this and takes it as a betrayal. The two men are climbing in a dangerous blizzard when the friend finds out about Vigo??™s intension and in a rage filled struggle Vigo falls over the edge of the mountain. The friend cannot pull him back up on his own so they both are stuck there until they both freeze and fall to their deaths.
Following the success of The Holy Mountain, Riefenstahl became very popular. She continued making films with Fanck and began learning about filmmaking and finally began to direct her own films. She was a very accomplished film maker who eventually caught the attention of Hitler. Riefenstahl was fascinated with Hitler when he first ran for president.
She then began directing Propaganda for the Nazi party, but after doing this for some time she wanted the freedom to create her own work and to act again. She agreed to make one more film for the Nazi party before doing this so Triumph des Wilens (Triumph of the Will) was created. This movie was very well received in Germany and is still seen as the most successful piece of propaganda ever produced. Riefenstahl continued creating films and documentaries including filming the 1936 Olympics.
Riefenstahl was scheduled to begin a tour of America but things in Germany involving the Nazi party began getting truly out of hand and she was no longer welcome because of her continued support of Hitler. People describe the Mountain films as a cultural genre that is much like Western movies and to Americans. Many different themes important to Germany are touched on in this movie. The most prominent idea in the strength of nature, all of the main characters marvel at the great beauty and power of nature. The theme is to go back to nature, go back to the routs where they were from, tradition.
There is a scene between Diotima and the Friend who are talking about why they climb mountains and enjoy the ocean. Diotima says that she wishes she could be a part of nature. Loyalty and Betrayal are also found in the movie.
Loyalty is shown by Vigo and his friend, they go climbing together and at the end of the film and Vigo goes climbing with his friend even when it is far too dangerous. Betrayal is seemingly committed by Diotima when Vigo??™s friend catches him flirting with her. The Friends mother shames her for her disloyalty and this guilt??™s her into climbing up the cabin to alert the other climbers of Vigo and the Friends disappearance. The Holy Mountain glorified mountain climbing, skiing and avalanches. These things symbolize the strength that Germany was trying to prove they still had. At this time the Germans were still in the wake of their defeat in World War I.
Artist were encouraging the people of Germany to have pride in their country and telling the world that they were confident in Germany??™s strength and they would pull through this difficult time. Once the Nazi??™s came to power Hitler was a big supporter of mountain films as well as Riefenstahl. He thought that these films were very positive for showing people what Germany was capable of. Once Hitler began to see what effects film could have on the public the Nazi??™s began taking over the industry.
All Jewish directors and actors were fired which was a huge blow to German film. The only films being produced were propaganda. These propaganda films became very popular however one people like Riefenstahl began directing them. All of the Mountain Films are very important as a part of German culture. The Holy Mountain, stands out because of it innovative story as well as its debut of Riefenstahl as an actress and for jump starting her directing career.