On DVD: The Idolatry of Glaciers, Rocks and Leni Riefenstahl

Riefenstahl and her companions are stuck on a tiny ledge for three nights while skiers are trapped in an ice cave below. Meanwhile, a biplane flies over and around the mountain searching for signs of life. (The wartime aviator Ernst Udet’s stunt flying may be the equal of the stunt climbing.) That the movie seems the summit of Fanck’s art may be attributed to the producer’s engaging the great G.W. Pabst to direct the dramatic scenes — most famously when a wide-eyed Riefenstahl, shown largely in close-up, helps one of her companions in tying down the other who has gone mad from the cold. In her memoir, Riefenstahl takes credit for recruiting both Pabst and Udet.

In part because of its association with Riefenstahl as well as its glorification of individual will and natural superiority, the Bergfilm genre has been seen as proto-fascist cinema. The connection is not unfounded although in their day, Fanck’s films were admired for their athletic displays and sensational photography by left wing as well as right wing critics — the Communist Party paper Red Flame characterized “White Hell” as “undoubtedly one of the best German films ever.”

Fanck, who managed to avoid joining the Nazi Party until 1940, shortly after the war broke out, exemplified a strain of German Romanticism — the nature worship found in the paintings of the 19th-century artist Caspar David Friedrich and certain films by Werner Herzog. Mr. Herzog once called himself a director of landscapes. The same could be equally said of Fanck although it could also be said that the German political landscape ultimately directed him.

BOMBSHELL A scandalous, German-speaking movie star, as well as a Jew who escaped Europe for Hollywood, Hedy Lamarr was a sort of anti-Riefenstahl, contributing to the Allied war effort through the invention of a radio guidance system that anticipates today’s Wi-Fi. “Bombshell” “relates Lamarr’s ventures, those onscreen and off, with savvy and narrative snap,” the New York Times critic Manohla Dargis wrote in her 2017 review. Available on Blu-ray, DVD and Amazon Video. (Kino Lorber/Zeitgeist)

FACES PLACES Agnès Varda tours France in the company of the young conceptual artist JR making what might be called fugitive photographic memorials. “Despite its unassuming, conversational ethos — which is also to say by means of Ms. Varda’s staunchly democratic understanding of her job as a filmmaker — ‘Faces Places’ reveals itself as a powerful, complex and radical work,” A.O. Scott wrote in The Times in 2017. On Blu-ray, DVD and Amazon Video. (Cohen Media)

FORBIDDEN FILMS: THE HIDDEN LEGACY OF NAZI FILMS The German documentarian Felix Moeller explores the paradoxical afterlife of World War II propaganda films, including the notorious anti-Semitic costume drama “Jew Süss.” Reviewing the movie for The Times in 2015, Nic Rapold called it “a sober treatment of sobering material. Available on DVD and Amazon Video. (Kino Lorber)

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