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The Holy Mountain (1926)

Der heilige Berg (original title)
Diotima meets Karl in the mountains where they fall in love and have an affair. When Karl's friend, Vigo, meets her, he mistakenly believes she is in love with him. Karl then believes that she is betraying him with his friend.


Arnold Fanck


Arnold Fanck


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Credited cast:
Leni Riefenstahl ... Diotima
Luis Trenker ... Karl
Ernst Petersen Ernst Petersen ... Vigo
Frida Richard Frida Richard ... Mother
Friedrich Schneider Friedrich Schneider ... Colli
Hannes Schneider Hannes Schneider ... Mountain Guide
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Leontine Sagan Leontine Sagan


The dancer, Diotima, meets an engineer and skier, Karl, in his cottage in the mountains where they fall in love and have an affair. When Karl's young friend, Vigo, meets her she gives him her scarf. The infatuated Vigo mistakenly believes she is in love with him. Karl sees Diotima innocently caressing Vigo and he believes that Diotima is betraying him with his friend. Written by Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

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Release Date:

November 1926 (Austria) See more »

Also Known As:

The Holy Mountain See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


(2001 restored)

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


At the end a caption reads that loyalty was the highest virtue of a person. The motto of the German SS was, "meine ehre heist treue" or My Honor is Loyalty. A virtue taken to an extreme degree. See more »

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User Reviews

A not so holy mountain.
4 December 2005 | by Bill-1035See all my reviews

A pioneering 'berg' film from the silent days of German cinema starring Leni Riefenstahl, later made famous or infamous as the documenter of Nazi Germany in 'Triumph of the Will' (the 34 Nuremburg rally) and 'Olympiad' (the 36 Olympics). This was her first acting film and she does a lot of dancing (quite good) and some over-acting, (quite bad) waving her arms in the air and rolling her eyes, taking her cue from Mae Marsh, no doubt.

The eternal triangle story is so simple I still can't believe Fanck took 1¾ hours to tell it. However to give him his due a lot of the film is taken up by scenery shots some of which are quite spectacular. A downhill ski race is also a feature although Fanck clearly plays fast and loose with times and locations so don't expect anything to make a whole lot of sense during this section. If they had had continuity girls at that time this one would have been looking for another job in real short order.

The climax of the film comes when 'The Mountaineer' sees his fiancée (Riefenstahl) being groped by some man. He is furious but in true public school style attempts to sublimate his anger in a daring mountain climb much like Riefenstahl sublimated her excessive emotion in a dance earlier in the film. (Quite clearly at the time violent exercise and a cold shower in the morning was thought to be a cure for everything.) Half way up they have stopped for a rest on a narrow ledge when a chance remark by Vigo, the companion, makes 'the mountaineer; realise that it was the guy he is now roped to who was groping his fiancée. He is so furious that forgetting the floor space is somewhat restricted he makes a threatening gesture towards Vigo who instinctively steps back and …..whoops! (An earlier comment on this site stated that he planned to murder Vigo but Fanck makes it clear that he did not, it was an accident.)

An interesting comparison can be made between Fanck's movie and the recent mountaineering drama documentary 'Touching the Void' in which fact virtually duplicates the fiction of 'Holy Mountain'. Watching the two in close proximity is very illuminating for the ethos of both films. I think the earlier movie has the edge when it comes to cinematography despite the fact that fixed camera position is the rule though I expect in some of the locations even actors' movements must have been a problem. The shooting of the film itself was plagued by weather problems, ice kept melting, snow turned to slush and the whole project was nearly thrown out by UFA. This is not a great movie but, especially with the comparison with 'Touching the Void', it is a fascinating movie from a historical perspective as well as worth watching in its own right if you are a fan of silent movies.

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