Im Kampf mit dem Berge [Battle with the Mountain] (1921) + ORF Radio-Symphonieorchester

Im Kampf mit dem Berge – 1. Teil: In Sturm und Eis – Eine Alpensymphonie in Bildern
Director: Arnold Fanck
Writer: Arnold Fanck
Cast: Ilse RohdeHannes Schneider
Part of: Film and Music Cycle in the Konzerthaus
With music by: Paul Hindemith, played by the ORF Radio-Symphonieorchester

Plot:
Ilse Rohde and Hannes Schneider are two skiers who decide to climb the 4.500m high Lyskamm mountain. It takes them three days to make the trip and return, during which a camera team follows them to document their climb that is neither easy nor without danger.

I’m not a mountain person (weird for an Austrian, I know) and watching people risk their lives to climb a mountain, look around for a bit and then descend again, makes me uncomfortable, both in theory and in practice. That being said, Im Kampf mit dem Berge is a beautifully shot film with great music and probably one of the best films that could have been made with that material.

imkampfmitdemberge

You’d expect the camera work of this film to really, really suck – after all it was shot in the 20s and on a huge fucking mountain in the middle of winter. But in fact Fanck himself and his other camera man Sepp Allgeier really know how to frame a shot and how to keep it steady. It really was brilliant to watch. I have seen many a studio production with worse camera.

The film is categorized as a documentary but I do believe that at least some parts are fictionalized – like the beginning when our two mountaineers meet and Schneider invites Rohde to come along and she pretty much immediately agrees even though they apparently don’t know each other. (I’d also doubt whether Schneider really had to save Rohde and catch her somehow every five steps.) But it’s not really important whether it is, I think.

imkampfmitdemberge1

The music we heard was the original film music performed by the Radio-Symphonieorchester. And it really is wonderful music, very epic and the kind of music that couldn’t hide it was film music if it wanted to. It fit the film perfectly.

All in all, it was a really nice evening, despite my dislike of mountains. Though it did make me exceedingly glad that Vienna is in the flat part of Austria.

imkampfmitdemberge2Summarizing: Recommended.

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