Berge in Flammen, Mountains on Fire - Bergfilm, art film, and war film, conceived and directed By Luis Trenker (1892-1990). You'd think, from English language media, that 1914-1918 happened only on the western front. Not so! Millions died on the eastern front and in the south, in the Alps. All the more reason for watching Berge in Flammen, set in the Dolomites during the war of attrition that ran almost non stop from 1915 to 1917. Imagine, trenches in mountains way above the snowline,dug into permafrost, cut off from supply lines.
Largely filmed on location, the camera crew were themselves skilled mountaineers - some of these shots would have been technically difficult to carry off. Yet Berge in Flammen is an astonishingly beautiful film, a symphony of high peaks, snowfields and rockwalls, shot from dizzying, expressionist angles. Nature as poetry, dwarfing the silly battles below. Global warming and safety regulations probably mean that films like this can't be made again. In any case, the South Tyrol depicted here is largely memory, but that, too, is a reason for seeing this film and appreciating its message. Not for nothing is this film bilingual, and those involved in the making thereof, a mix of Germans, Austrians, Frenchmen and Italians. Very much the "can do" camaraderie of the mountains. Some of the camera crew were not only climbers but also actors.
Meanwhile, Florian's village has been occupied by the Italians. Florian's home is billeted but the soldiers friendly. "Farina!" says an Italian. "Mehl" says Pia, Florian's wife. Florian is sent out alone, in secret on reconnaissance. But he can't stay. Crawling back up to the summit, during an enemy barrage, he's shot at by his own men, though is saved. The fortress is dynamited : the whole peak explodes. Twenty years later, Florian and Arthur (from Rome) ascend the mountains again, over the old battlefield. A vista of the Twin peaks of the Dolomites. They sit happily, together, no need for words. The soundtrack, incidentally is very good, as modern as the cinematography. The composer was Giuseppe Becci.