Artikelnummer 778

S.O.S. EISBERG (1933) * with switchable English subtitles *

Gustav Diessl, Leni Riefenstahl and Sepp Rist
This is the story of four men, who set off to Greenland to rescue an explorer, who was with them on an earlier expedition and who got lost and was assumed to be dead.  However, a piece of jetsam arrives on land and proves that he really is still alive.  So the expedition returns to the scene of the crime, so to speak, and gets into trouble crossing a half-frozen fjord, which carries them out to sea. 
While all the action of this film takes place within a few hundred feet of sea level, this is definitely a Bergfilm by the master of the genre, Arnold Fanck, in that it shows the struggle of the individual against the relentlessly lethal Nature, which wins more often than not.  Bergfilme are not about wonderful dialogs or intricate plots --- they're about iconic heroes sternly staring into the face of an implicable, oncoming storm.  This is even reflected in the film's music:  wonderfully stirring and fitting the action perfectly, it sounds very much like a cross between an heroic passage in a Richard Strauss symphonic poem and something right out of Triumph of the Will  (and is this not, actually, just that:  A Triumph of the Spirit over adversity?). 
Leni Riefenstahl, a veteran director of many such movies in the genre, plays an aviatrix in search of her  missing husband.  The cinematography of the icebergs is absolutely spectacular.  The shifts between scenes shot in outdoor sets and those actually filmed in Greenland are seamlessly pieced together.  You won't be able to discern between the two.  The acting, on the other hand, wouldn't get an Oscar, even if susbtantial bribes were made and the judges were deaf and dumb  (my personal favorite:  Ernst Udet, who plays himself, has just found a stranded Leni Riefenstahl on the ice.  No doubt convinced their doom was but days away, she somehow manages not to smear her makeup and when Ernst finds her, screams to him that he should keep flying to search for another explorer.  Udet's response?  "Okay ... see you soon!" ... Excuse me?!?  See you soon?!?  I don't think so!).
There is plenty to give cynical viewers something to chuckle over:  explorers, fully clothed, swimming in 32F waters, which would cause lesser supermen to cramp up almost instantly and drown, because the shock of the cold would make muscle control impossible; radiomen trying to reach the stranded explorers and mentioning --- for some God-knows-why reason --- that they haven't heard from the explorers in weeks; crazed and starved members of the crew attacking polar bears, who growl like lions, with spears, hoping to drag their 1000+ pound carcasses through the water to their ice floe to have a dinner of polar steak; the Eskimos arriving in kayaks to save everyone at the last minute, like a cavalry scene from a bad 30s Western ...  However, if you accept the film for what it is ... a symphony of ice and water and brutal Nature in a dark conflict with the human will to survive ... rather than judge it cinematographically, you will not be disappointed.  Those who enjoy National Geographic specials and similar documentaries, will enjoy this the most.

Colonel General Ernst Udet (26 April 1896 – 17 November 1941) was the second-highest scoring German flying ace of World War I. He was one of the youngest aces and was the highest scoring German ace to survive the war (at the age of 22).   His 62 victories were second only to Manfred von Richthofen, his commander in the Flying Circus. Udet rose to become a squadron commander under Richthofen, and later, under Hermann Göring.  Following Germany's defeat, Udet spent the 1920s and early 1930s as a stunt pilot, international barnstormer, light aircraft manufacturer, and playboy. In 1933, he joined the Nazi Party and became involved in the early development of the Luftwaffe. He used his networking skills to be appointed as director of research and development for the burgeoning air force. He was especially influential in adoption of dive bombing techniques and the adoption of theStuka dive bomber. By 1939, Udet had risen to the post of Director-General of Equipment for the Luftwaffe. However, the stress of the position and his distaste for administrative duties led to an increasing dependence on alcohol.  When World War II began, the Luftwaffe's needs for equipment outstripped Germany's production capacity. Udet's old comrade in arms Hermann Göring first lied to Adolf Hitler about these materiel shortcomings when the Germans lost the Battle of Britain, then deflected the Führer's wrath onto Udet. 

On 17 November 1941 Udet committed suicide, shooting himself in the head while on the phone with his girlfriend. Evidence indicates that his unhappy relationship with Göring, Erhard Milch, and the Nazi Party in general was the cause of his mental breakdown.  According to Udet's biography, The Fall of an Eagle, he wrote a suicide note in red pencil which included: "Ingelein, why have you left me?" and "Iron One, you are responsible for my death." "Ingelein" referred to his girlfriend, Inge Bleyle, and "Iron One" to Hermann Göring. The book The Luftwaffe War Diaries states something similar, that Udet wrote "Reichsmarschall, why have you deserted me?" in red on the headboard of his bed.  It is possible that an affair Udet had with Martha Dodd, daughter of the U.S. ambassador to Germany and Soviet sympathizer, during the 1930s might have had some importance in these events. Records made public in the 1990s confirm Soviet security involvement with Dodd's activities.  Udet's suicide was concealed from the public, and at his funeral he was lauded as a hero who had died in flight while testing a new weapon. On his way to attend Udet's funeral, the World War II fighter ace Werner Mölders died in a plane crash in Breslau. Udet was buried next to Manfred von Richthofen in the Invalidenfriedhof Cemetery in Berlin. Mölders was buried next to Udet.

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