IMDb > White Hell of Pitz Palu (1929)
Die weiße Hölle vom Piz Palü
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White Hell of Pitz Palu (1929) More at IMDbPro »Die weiße Hölle vom Piz Palü (original title)

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Arnold Fanck (writer)
Ladislaus Vajda (writer)
View company contact information for White Hell of Pitz Palu on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
1 June 1930 (USA) See more »
Nothing like it before, nothing like it again!
A man climbs a 12,000-foot mountain to search for his wife, who was lost on their honeymoon. Another couple makes the dangerous climb with him. | Add synopsis »
User Reviews:
Even fewer weak points than expected... See more (14 total) »


  (in credits order)

Gustav Diessl ... Dr. Johannes Krafft

Leni Riefenstahl ... Maria Maioni
Ernst Petersen ... Hans Brandt
Ernst Udet ... Flieger Udet (as Flieger Ernst Udet)
Otto Spring ... Christian Klucker (as Bergführer Spring)
Mizzi Götzel ... Maria Krafft

Kurt Gerron ... Mann im Salon (guest at night club)
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Charles McNamee ... Narrator in USA sound version (voice)

Directed by
Arnold Fanck  (as Dr. Arnold Fanck)
Georg Wilhelm Pabst  (as G.W. Pabst)
Writing credits
(in alphabetical order)
Arnold Fanck  writer
Ladislaus Vajda  writer

Produced by
Paul Kohner .... associate producer: USA Universal 1930 version
Harry R. Sokal .... producer (as H.R. Sokal)
Original Music by
Giuseppe Becce (1935 German sound version) (as Dr. Giuseppe Becce)
Ashley Irwin (1998 restored version)
Heinz Roemheld (1930 version)
Cinematography by
Sepp Allgeier 
Richard Angst 
Hans Schneeberger 
Film Editing by
Arnold Fanck 
Art Direction by
Ernö Metzner 
Production Management
Heinz Landsmann .... unit manager
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Marc Sorkin .... assistant director (as M. Sorkin)
Sound Department
C. Roy Hunter .... recording supervisor: 1930 Universal USA version
Eberhard Leschin .... sound engineer (b&w restored version 1998)
Camera and Electrical Department
Hans G. Casparius .... still photographer
Editorial Department
Edward L. Cahn .... editor: US version
Nina Goslar .... commissioning editor (1998 restored version)
Location Management
Heinz Landsmann .... location manager
Music Department
David Broekman .... synchronization and score (1930 version)
Michael Schubert .... music editor & mixer (1998 restored version)
Michael Schubert .... scoring engineer (1998 restored version)
Frank Strobel .... conductor (B&W restored version 1998)
Richard Bronskill .... orchestrator (uncredited)
Andor Pinter .... orchestrator (1930 version) (uncredited)
Heinz Roemheld .... orchestrator (1930 version) (uncredited)
William Schiller .... orchestrator (1930 version) (uncredited)

Production CompaniesDistributors

Additional Details

Also Known As:
"Die weiße Hölle vom Piz Palü" - Germany (original title)
See more »
150 min | Germany:135 min (25 fps) (TV version) | USA:75 min | 90 min (1935 sound verson)
Aspect Ratio:
1.33 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Silent | Mono (Tobis-Klangfilm) (sound version: 1935)

Did You Know?

During shooting in sub-zero temperatures, Leni Riefenstahl developed severe frostbite and a bladder infection that would plague her for the rest of her life.See more »
Continuity: At around 53-54 minutes Dr. Johannes Krafft's ice axe appears and disappears between shots.See more »


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11 out of 15 people found the following review useful.
Even fewer weak points than expected..., 14 July 2006
Author: Ingo Schwarze from Karlsruhe, Germany

Other comments nicely point out the excellence of this film's mountain photography. That's why you should go watch it. Yet, before viewing it, i feared the plot and the film's perspective on humankind might be quite annoying. Gladly, this is not so.

Leni Riefenstahl has a rather doubtful reputation for acting Nazi propaganda films - but this film is quite free from patriotic or chauvinist sub tones. In fact, it is pleasing even from a modern feminist perspective, actively avoiding and rebuking gender clichés, which is quite astonishing in a piece of art dating from pre-WW2 times.

Many ancient mountain films, in particular German ones, praise heroic fight. On first sight, some people claim this one does so, too. On closer inspection, i don't think so any more. Granted, Dr. Krafft does act heroically - but it's completely obvious less obsession and more prudence from his part would have served everyone much better. Hans wants to be a hero - but for that very reason is proved the greatest fool. Maria, the least heroic of all the party and the most sensible, clearly leaves the best impression in the end. A film can hardly promote heroism by showing off its dumbness...

The film has its weak points, but naming these rather shows how good it actually is: The film's location is the Piz Palu north face. Yet, many scenes have been taken in the Piz Morteratsch south east face. So far, no problem - a north face has bad sunlight, but the film dwells on light. On top of that, turning a film in the Palu north face would have been suicidal. That ice wall is indeed extremely dangerous and quite famous for its icy avalanches. Yet, the faking of the location could have been better concealed in many scenes. Viewing a panorama in the background that simply cannot be seen from the location the foreground is meant to represent IS disturbing if you know the whereabouts. A few glitches are even worse: For probably technical reasons, when searching for climbers in the steep Palu north face, the film actually shows scans of a flat glacier basin (the Vadret Pers glacier tongue, as far as i remember). This gross inconsistency will annoy you even if you do not personally know the Bernina mountains.

The weakest point of the film are the subtitles. Clearly, they are meant to help understanding of the plot - remember this is a mute movie. A few of them are certainly required, but they are simply far too numerous, and many just rehash what is obvious from the fine pictures, anyway.

But hey, superfluous subtitles and faked locations - we ought to be glad not to find more serious defects to complain about...

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