Alpenglow Ski Mountaineering History Project Home

Arnold Fanck - White Ecstasy
This film was made at St Anton am Arlberg and stars Hannes Schneider, Leni Riefenstahl and Rudi Matt. The other principal characters include "Teetsche" and "Fietsche," two bumpkins from Hamburg, one tall (Walter Riml) and the other short (Guzzi Lantschner), and a mischievous boy who seems born to ski. (See also isha-1993-spr.)

The film opens with winter scenes of St Anton. Leni watches a ski jumping contest and decides she must try it. Meanwhile Hannes greets the morning ski classes. Leni builds a jump and straps on skis for the first time. (There is a closeup of her bindings, with toe irons, toe straps and heel toggles. Later in the film steel edges are described as the "latest invention.") Leni launches herself into space (a meter or two) and the boy offers to help. After several futile attempts, she signs up for a lesson with Rudi. Hannes offers her a private lesson after watching her follies.

Meanwhile, Teetsche and Fietsche plod toward the village on foot and are passed by a group of langlaufers. That looks too good to be true so they resolve to try skiing. They buy instructional books and get a job waxing skis in the village. The film alternates between scenes of Hannes teaching Leni and the Hamburgers teaching themselves with their books. The tall one (Fietsche) reads "Allerneuste Moglich keiten im Skilauf," which has him doing royal christies, leg breakers, 360s and other freestyle stunts. The short one (Teetsche) reads Fanck and Schneider's "Arlbergtechnik" and flies off a farmhouse roof while engrossed in the book.

A year later, Leni returns to the village a competent skier. In a mild romantic rivalry, Hannes and Rudi agree to a fox chase in which Hannes and Leni will be the foxes and Rudi and the other village hot-shots the hounds. Teetsche and Fietsche secretly join the chase hoping to catch the elusive Leni. The chase progresses through an escalating series of pratfalls and stunts. Skiers perform one-footed skiing, pure parallel turns, straight running on the steeps, jump turns, cornice jumps, cliff jumps, and finally a triple-leap over three farmhouses. Finally, Leni and Hannes are captured, but neither Rudi nor the Hamburg yokels claim the prize.

Return to the Alpenglow Ski Mountaineering History Project home page

Copyright © 2002 Lowell Skoog. All Rights Reserved.
Last Updated: Mon Mar 15 13:49:20 PST 2010