April 12, 1932 [Stürme über dem Mont Blanc/Storm Over Mont Blanc]

Hindenburg wins the run-off election in Germany, and defeats Hitler--who remains, his followers smiling in brutal dreams of epaulets and leather.

It's the German fetish, this rising to conquer--and their Alpine movies make it a tangible thing, swept with wind and preserved in snow--cut by skis and the determination of those hard-planed ruddy faces, filled with frozen joy at the challenge of it, standing at the edge of precipices with combined ease and nobility, certain of victory.

Stürme über dem Mont Blanc is almost too easy a metaphor for all this, what with its riveted attention to mountain-tops and racing clouds--and hands dropping kindling into growing fires. The weather station-hero is played by Sepp Rist, and both his name and character are bronzed rawhide; and the heroine is Leni Riefenstahl--on the verge of her own career as a film director--reckless and grinning, her mouth open, her hair like a beautiful scrub-brush, her square face dependable and free. And they are poised for apotheosis, unconscious National Socialists willing to endure cold heights, knowing that, no matter how mangled their frost-bitten hands, the fire will be lit.


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