Ski Mad World is developing into a real resource. It fills a niche I didn’t know existed: “the History of Skiing Geography.” MadPatSki’s recent post on the history of ski movies motivated me to investigate some of the story lines he alludes to in the piece.
Arnold Fanck was a pioneer in ski films. He began making documentary and action films after the end of World War I, shooting in remote mountain locations.
His movies were popular with German audiences and led to what are known as “mountain films,” a style that some see as the German equivalent of the US Western: a genre unique to the country.
Filming a Fanck Mountain Film was hard and at times dangerous work. His actors suffered bruises, cuts and injuries as a result of being in some of his films. In one case, the female star in Avalanche was hauled halfway up a cliff, and “buried” by a slide triggered by a dynamite explosion on the mountain above her. Fanck did not use stand-ins.
The YouTube clip — a trailer for documentary on Fanck — is fascinating, even in German. Sit through the monologue in the middle. The whole clip is very short, but there is great footage at the beginning and end.