IF ORDERED IN PLASTIC CASES, THE ENTIRE COLLECTION COMES IN ONE CASE, WHICH HOLDS MULTIPLE DVDs:
5 DVD set for the Luis Trenker fan, all with subtitles:
BERGE IN FLAMMEN (1931) * with switchable English subtitles *
Two of Germany's best and busiest directors collaborated on Berge in Flammen (Mountain in Flames). The storyline should be of interest to pro-ecologists, inasmuch as the directors take to task the warmongers of the world for despoiling the natural beauties of the European mountain ranges with their shell-fire. The final outrage occurs during a battle between the Austrians and the Italians in the Dolomites, culminating with the destruction of an entire mountain (hence the film's title). The harrowing images on screen were complemented perfectly by the musical score of Giuseppe Beece. Also known as The Doomed Batallion, Berge in Flammen was filmed in three different languages -- German, English, French -- for a total cost of $150,000.
APPROX. 94 MINS. EXCELLENT, DIGITAL QUALITY.
IN GERMAN WITH SWITCHABLE ENGLISH SUBTITLES
CONDOTTIERI (1937) * with switchable English subtitles *
It's Italy in the time of the Renaissance. The fortress of the Duke of Lombardy sits under heavy siege. When the Duke is killed in the heavy fighting, his wife Catarina flees with her son Giovanni in the mountains. But Giovanni is not going to let the story end with the loss of his mother's fortress. Another Trenker classic.
Italien in der Zeit der Renaissance. Die Burg des Herzogs von Lombardo steht unter schwerer Belagerung. Als der Herzog bei den heftigen Kämpfen ums Leben kommt, flieht seine Frau Catarina mit ihrem kleinen Sohn Giovanni in die Berge.
DVD-R IS IN GERMAN WITH SWITCHABLE ENGLISH SUBTITLES. APPROX. 97 MINS. COMBINED TOTAL. EXCELLENT, DIGITAL FILM QUALITY.
DER HEILIGE BERG (1926) * with English intertitles *
The dancer Diotima (Leni Riefenstahl) meets the engineer and skier Karl (Luis Trenker) in his cottage in the mountains and they fall in love for each other and have a love affair. When Karl's young friend Vigo (Ernst Petersen) meets the dancer after a presentation and she gives her scarf with a smile to him, the infatuated Vigo mistakenly believes she is in love with him. Karl sees Diotima innocently caressing Vigo and he believes that Diotima is betraying him with his friend. Karl decides to commit suicide and invites Vigo to climb the dreadful Santo Mountain North face during the winter thaw with him. His best friend joins Karl in a tragic journey.
DVD-R HAS ENGLISH INTERTITLES.
QUALITY (of feature film only):
Sharpness of picture? - Excellent, digital DVD quality
LENGTH OF FEATURE FILM: 106 mins
DER KAISER VON KALIFORNIEN (1936) * with switchable English subtitles *
The title of this German film translates as 'The Emperor of California', so -- when I first heard of this movie -- I thought it would be a dramatisation of the bizarre true story of Joshua Norton, an eccentric beggar in 19th-century San Francisco who declared himself Emperor of the United States. But this movie turns out to be inspired by the life of a 19th-century historic figure, right enough, but it isn't Joshua Norton: it's John Sutter (or Johann Suter), the immigrant on whose land was discovered (in 1848) the gold ore that led to the California Gold Rush. The film was clearly made on a large budget, and several exterior sequences were actually filmed in California. Most of the cast give excellent, well-directed performances.
'The Kaiser of California' won Italy's Mussolini Cup as best foreign (non-Italian) film of the year. This means both good news and bad news. In order to win the Mussolini Cup, a film had to be genuinely well-made, featuring excellent photography, intelligent scripting, superlative performances. This movie has those assets in abundance. The bad news is that -- as you might guess from its patron's name -- the Mussolini Cup was ideologically motivated. To be worthy of that award, a film had to advance Fascist agenda. Which this movie, indeed, does. At every point where I spotted a deviation from historical truth in this movie, the deviation was always to the benefit of totalitarian (and anti-American) politics.
To begin with, the real John Sutter (or Johann Suter) was Swiss. When he founded a homestead in Spanish California, he called it Nueva Helvetia: New Switzerland. In this movie, Johann Suter (not John Sutter) retains his German birthname throughout his life, and he identifies himself as German (not Swiss) to his dying day. In the time of the Anschluss, I can understand why Nazi filmmakers would want to blur the distinctions between Germans, Austrians and Swiss. The basic nugget of historic truth is retained: when gold is discovered on Suter's land, his homestead is ruined by prospectors. Others make fortunes in the goldfields while Suter ends his days in poverty. The last reel of this film shows Suter shrieking on the steps of a U.S. courthouse, cursing the American politicians who have cheated him. The truth is more complicated. In real life, the U.S. Congress voted to compensate John Sutter very generously for the loss of his land ... but he died before the compensation could commence. Also, John Sutter's real-life son August amassed a fortune in the boom economy triggered by the Gold Rush. (The son selfishly refused to share the wealth with his father.) In this film, Johann Suter has a fictional son Rudolph who bears almost no resemblance to the real August Sutter. For that matter, the name of Suter's wife has been arbitrarily changed from Nanette (a Swiss name) to the more German-sounding Anna.
The injustices heaped upon Suter throughout this movie are presented as semi-official actions of the United States government, rather than what they actually were: depredations caused by greedy individuals. This movie stands as solid evidence that, as far back as 1936, the German film ministry was trying to stir up German-language audiences against the United States. 'The Kaiser of California' is anti-U.S., pro-Nazi propaganda, but it manages to be fairly subtle in its intentions: there is, of course, no explicit mention of Nazism nor Hitler.
DVD-R IS IN GERMAN WITH SWITCHABLE ENGLISH SUBTITLES.
APPROX. 97 MINS.
EXCELLENT DIGITAL QUALITY.
DER SOHN DER WEISSEN BERGE (1930) * with switchable English subtitles *
This movie is set in the Alps, at some European Ski Championship. Initially we're introduced to the German team of three young men, Turri (Luis Trenker) being the star of them. He is adored both by local girl and Mary, the daughter of a French businessman/tourist staying at the mountain hotel. Then there's Milacs, another tourist, who asks Mary to dance, but is called away by telephone. Rivalry seems to build up... but early next morning, Milacs asks for Turri to bring him up a mountain. The weather turns very bad and Turri returns alone, reporting that Milacs fired him and went alone to a mountain cabin. However, a phone call to that cabin reveals that he never arrived, so a search team on skis, with torches, sets out to find Milacs. They don't find him, but a broken ski stick and his rucksack with diary notes indicating that he fears Turri is found; and this is enough to arrest Turri and keep him out of the ski championships the next day. Wonderful photography -- especially of the ice caves and the ski scenes – and the chase scene at the end tops off this film nicely.
THERE IS A NEWSREEL ALONG WITH THE FILM, JUST AS GERMAN AUDIENCES MIGHT HAVE SEEN WHEN THE MOVIE WAS FIRST SHOWN (except this newsreel may not be contemporary to when the film was released).
DVD-R IS IN GERMAN WITH SWITCHABLE ENGLISH SUBTITLES
QUALITY (of feature film only):
· Sharpness of picture? - excellent, digital DVD quality
TOTAL DURATION: 547 MINUTES (approximately 9 hours)