Not many filmmakers can claim to have practically invented a film genre, much less a director not considered great or important. Arnold Fanck, however, embodies that paradox, for he certainly merits the title of the father of German film’s equivalent to the American Western, the “mountain film”. A genre popular in the 1920s and 30s, mountain films, not to be confused with the later and better known “Heimat” films, typically featured spectacular on-location photography of dangerous climbs as brave heroes and heroines conquered Germany’s lone frontiers. German literature and art do have precedents for the genre, but Fanck nonetheless deserves much credit for developing a popular, expressive genre which marks a vivid contrast with the studio-dominated productions of the period. Film history has also underrated Fanck’s talents, which captured some astonishing images.
A geologist by training, Fanck—often billed as “Dr. Arnold Fanck”—began making documentaries with “Das Wunder des… read more