This film, in German, and S.O.S. Iceberg, in English, were filmed simultaneously by Universal. The rise of the Nazi party in Germany brought an end to U.S. and German co-productions such as these films. See more »
Bergfilm. Survival on icebergs west coast of Greenland.
The story involves an expedition of four men who set off to Greenland to rescue an explorer previously presumed dead, but whose survival is attested to by a note written on a piece of jetsam. The expedition itself gets into fatal trouble when, trying to cross a half-frozen fjord, it is swept out to sea. This will be no leisurely drift into the ocean; they constantly see similar icebergs rolling over due to uneven melting. A similar roll would surely be their sudden end.
Even though all action in this movie takes place within a few hundred feet of sea level, this is definitely a mountain movie or Bergfilm (German). Bergfilms are all about individuals at the utmost edge of human existence, pitted against a relentless lethal Nature in a struggle which Nature wins as often as not. Bergfilms are not about wonderful dialogs or intricate plots, they're about iconic heroes sternly staring into the face of an implacable oncoming storm.
The film is directed by Arnold Fanck, the dean of Bergfilms. Leni Riefenstahl, a veteran lead in many great Bergfilms, and later to become a very controversial director in her own right, plays an aviatrix in search of her husband.
The cinematography of the icebergs-- calving, drifting as stupendous sculptures, or rolling over like massive whales breaching-- is absolutely spectacular. You will not be able to detect the shifts between shots made on the outdoor sets and those actually filmed in Greenland.
The film offers some unexpected bonuses-- 30's airplanes puttering among the icebergs, and scenes of real Eskimos (Inuits) in their village and on the water, their lives not yet transformed by Western goods.
If you accept the film for what it is, a symphony of ice and water in dark conflict with the human will to survive, you will not be disappointed.
5 of 6 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?