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Georg Wilhelm Pabst
Feodor Chaliapin Sr.,
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Ewald André Dupont
Lya De Putti
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If I were to use just one word to capture the experience of seeing this film, it would be ASTOUNDING! Films dealing with mountain climbing such as THE WHITE TOWER, THIRD MAN ON THE MOUNTAIN or THE MOUNTAIN all pale in comparison with WHITE HELL OF PITZ PALU (1929).
There are two versions now available on DVD that are both worth seeing. Universal bought it for U.S. release and cut it from 133 minutes to a 79 minute length. This edition is offered by Grapevine Video (www.grapevinevideo.com)and was the first one that I viewed. With its source material being a 16mm reduction print the picture lacks somewhat, but in many ways this version plays much stronger then the 133 minute restored print offered by Kino.
Purchasing the Kino DVD I was pleased to see the stunning picture coming from a 35mm nitrate print. There were many fascinating scenes missing from Universal's release, but the film lacked the power of the shorter length. It is said that Universal used unused shots from this film for inclusion in several of their later sound films -- and that is not hard to believe. There are stunning shots all the way through the picture, but one gets the feeling that the makers were reluctant to trim any of their fascinating material.
I'd recommend purchasing both DVD's and watching the Grapevine release first. Then take a look at the uncut Kino version to see the wonder of the cinematography and enjoy the additional scenes.
I think you will find the dramatic power of the film is strengthened with the trimming. One might wish that Universal had left a bit more in their cut, but the film does work better with tightening.
At any rate this 1929 silent film contains excellent performances and astounding climbing shots, the likes of which I have never seen before!
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