Sunday, September 3, 2017

Dort Oben, Wo Die Alpen Glühen ( 1956 )

"Up There Where the Alps Glow"....a rough translation of the title of this 1956 German production starring Vienna-born Albert Rueprecht. Like most Heimatfilms, it features its fair share of mountain scenery, romance, and drama, and in this case, the drama is spread on as thick as butter.

Rueprecht stars as Bertl Bruneder, a young woodcarver who guides tourists up mountains as a sideline job. When a pretty young woman named Andrea ( Ingmar Zeisberg ) arrives in the village with her uncle ( Erik Frey ), she becomes intrigued with the "mountain with no name", a mountain that can only be climbed by way of a dangerous wall. She asks for a guide to take her up there but all the local guides refuse....except Bruneder. He had climbed the wall once before to win a wager against the local innkeeper Jakob ( Hardo Hesse ).

This morning saunter eventually turns into an overnight adventure when heavy cloud coverage prevents the couple from returning down the mountain. It is while they are up in "the heavens" that Andrea finds herself falling in love with Bertl. Her feelings aren't mutual, however.
There is a legend that when a man plucks edelweiss - the white star-shaped flower that grows precipitately on the side of a mountain - it signifies that he has been true and faithful to his lover. When Bertl relates this story to Andrea, she asks if he will risk gathering some edelweiss for her, but he simply shakes his head. 

He's a handsome fellow and back in the village he already has two blondes pining for him: Anna ( Lotte Ledl ) whom he fancies he loves, and Linda ( Gerlinde Locker ), the younger sister of Jakob. She is a lovely girl who is perfectly suited to Bertl, but he doesn't realize this. 
After his adventure on the mountain, Anna teases him over his unfaithfulness towards her with Andrea and Bertl climbs up the "Gottesfinger" mountain to bring edelweiss to her to prove his devotion. It's a foolish undertaking for a foolish woman and Bertl nearly dies in his attempt to retrieve the elusive edelweiss.

Unlike most American productions, where the film studios were fearful of endangering the lives of their stars, the principal players of Dort Oben Wo Die Alpen Glühen all performed their own stunts, and so you can clearly see them tackling the side of a mountain while clouds drift by a mile below them. It's a wonder how they managed to get the camera crew up there, too. Location scenery was shot in Kals, a mountain village in Tirol, Austria. 
Dort Oben, Wo Die Alpen Glühen is an engrossing drama and it features some good performances from Rueprecht and Zeisberg. However, the film lacks humor - and heart - which would have greatly added to its appeal. Also in the cast is Rudolf Carl and Peter Gruber.

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