The Great Leap

1927 [GERMAN]

Adventure / Comedy

IMDb Rating 6 10 130

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Movie Reviews

Reviewed by TheLittleSongbird 5 / 10

The not so great leap

Have always when watching any film, television show or theatre production had at least one main reason for wanting to see it. In the case of 'The Great Leap', there were three. Although not a mountaineering fan, there are some interesting films centered around it. At this point of film history, nobody did adversity in the mountains as effectively as Arnold Fanck. Leni Riefenstahl was far from a bad actress, though always did prefer her as director.

While their collaborations are far from perfect and some are better than others ('The White Hell of Pitz Palu' being a contender for the best, though Riefenstahl's directorial debut 'The Blue Light' is even better than that), they are at least interesting in terms of curiosity value. 'The Great Leap' is not as good as that film, nowhere near, and it has similar problems to 'The Holy Mountain' but it is better than 'Storm Over Mont Blanc'.

'The Great Leap' does have good things going for it. Visually it is masterly. The scenery is incredibly captivating and atmospheric but even better is the cinematography. Not only are there some truly breathtaking images, but the moving camera is so well used and make what happens raw and moving and the points of view interesting. It is a hauntingly scored film again and written with sincerity and good intentions.

Fanck's direction has a lot of impressive parts, especially when capturing the intensity of the action and emotional impact of it. The climax excites and moves in a way that what came before it didn't. Riefenstahl is much better here than in 'The Holy Mountain', she is better in her other films but she over-dramatises a good deal less here and is far from cold. Fanck's direction of her fares better here and is more focused.

Sadly, the rest of the cast don't really register enough and are nothing special. Their severely underwritten characters, that they do nothing with, don't help them and neither does the excessively over-heated and under-developed way it's written. The climax aside, the story doesn't really grip. It can be very dull due to some overlong padding.

Especially in the latter stages, and parts are thinly plotted. In the busier moments things get more complicated than needed.

Overall, watchable but not so great and with too un-engaging a story to be good. 5/10

Reviewed by boblipton 8 / 10

A Sprightly Germanic Mountain Comedy

Leni Riefenstahl is an Italian peasant who lives in the Dolemites. She enjoys free climbing barefoot, much to the annoyance of her would-be lover, Luis Trenker. One day she is lathering her goat by the river. She rescues Berlin tourist Hans Schneeberger, and the two instantly fall in love. This would not be a romantic comedy if there were no impediment to their love, and Schneeberger -- a great name for a mountain movie actor, is it not? -- is a shy, repressed city man. He misses a date with her and her eighteen or twenty orphaned brothers and sisters, so she sets him the challenge of winning the big cross-country skiing race.

Thanks to the machinations of Schneeberger's valet, Paul Graetz, the fix is in through various tricks, involving a fat suit, propellers and an umbrella, in fullblown silent-movie fantasy gags. The race, which takes up the second half of the film is a long-winded affair, full of comic tricks, a goat on skis, and much excellent camerawork by Fanck's team of six cinematographers, who shoot the skiers on the snow in an engaging fashion. It's a very engaging movie.

I looked at it on the new Kino dvd, from the Murnau Stiftung restoration. The print is in excellent shape, and Neil Brand's score is a fine one. For some reason, he seems to have chosen his themes by doing variations on Richard Roger's "Manhattan" and Cole Porter's "Love For Sale." I won't argue with success. It's a first-class silent comedy.

Reviewed by FerdinandVonGalitzien 5 / 10

Mountain Film Classic Triplet

Frau Gita ( Frau Leni Riefenstahl ) is a young and healthy Italian shepherdess fraulein that lives in the Alps. Besides caring for her little brothers and sisters, she has a goat called Pippa that she also cares for a lot. It is probably because of Pippa that she likes climbing mountains all day so very much. This hobby isn't particularly shared with Herr Toni ( Herr Luis Trenker ) a friend who lives nearby and who prefers to wear typical shepherd's customary garb ( hat with feather included ) instead of going up and down the Dolomites. During an unexpected visit to the mountains by Herr Michel Treuherz ( Herr Hans Schneeberger ) – who is an idle, rich and clumsy Berliner – and his valet Herr Paule ( Herr Paul Graetz ), funny situations will happen all around.

"Der Grosse Sprung", a film directed by Herr Arnold Fanck in the silent year of 1927, is a "mountain film" of that specific German film genre very popular during the 20's in Deutschland. It's a picture that contains all the typical and particular film resources that any "mountain film" must have. That is to say, it is a simple and schematic story full of topics in which nature and the beautiful mountain landscapes are the true main characters of the movie. (Let's not forget also that in many "mountain films" there is a special place for winter sports. Snow skiing is especially included in many of those pictures complete with a thrilling downhill skiing competition at the end of the film.)

On behalf of the mountain film genre, it must be said that those pictures have excellent cinematography ( six cinematographers were needed in "Der Grosse Sprung"! ). This enhances and idealizes the landscapes where the story of the film is based ( aestheticism über alles! ). Memorable too is the skillful and creative editing involved in the inevitable "mountain film" skiing competition. So in "Der Grosse Sprung", there is obviously one in the final part of the movie. It's brilliantly developed, full of rhythm ( the camera filming almost from every impossible angle ) and complete with comic situations. Unfortunately, it is excessively long (which is an unfortunate lack in many "mountain films").

Concerning the mountain films genre, it must be said that those pictures included a shameful collection of topics ... folkloric interests and stereotypes that many times make this Herr Von blush ( a terrible fact this indeed, such momentary aristocratic pallor ). It happens in "Der Grosse Sprung" that Frau Gita and Herr Toni wear picturesque clothes from an Italian catalogue resulting in somewhat less than impressive performances.

At this point this Herr Graf must give the credit to the characters of Herr Treuhez and his valet who are outstanding in the film and a notch above the others actors. The two characters give to the film hilarious scenes as the typical clumsy city ( and rich ) idle boy put into completely different surroundings and his valet, an efficient servant who will help his master as much as he can in spite of dangerous and freezing situations. It must be said that the fundamental principle of any "mountain film" is to entertain in a basic, even naïve way, paying more attention to the snow skiing action scenes and the outstanding landscapes while, not caring at all for a complicated plot. So, finally the artistic aim justifies the means.

Participating in "Der Grosse Sprung" were the mountain film classic triplet, Frau Leni Riefenstahl, Herr Arnold Fanck und Herr Luis Trenker. These were very important and strong personalities and that's necessary in order to understand this German film genre. They coincided and collided many times during their works together, later to develop different artistic routes. Frau Leni Riefenstahl became the most important of the three and a controversial, tricky but at the same time, fundamental figure of German and world cinema history.

And now, if you'll allow me, I must temporarily take my leave because this German Count must ask for the doctor in order to cure a few aristocratic broken bones after alpine skiing.

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