“Those crystals — they are a danger for you, and the whole village.”
A semi-feral woman named Junta (Leni Riefenstahl) who lives high up in a mountain with a young goatherd(Franz Maldacea) is menaced by local townspeople, who believe she is a witch given how many young men lose their lives climbing the mountain to reach the beautiful blue crystals at the top. Will a sympathetic man (Mathias Wieman) be able to save Junta from her doomed fate?
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- German Films
- Witches and Wizards
Film fanatics may be familiar with this early “mountain film” — written, directed by, and starring Leni Riefenstahl — given clips interspersed throughout the 1993 documentary The Wonderful, Horrible Life of Leni Riefenstahl, which details the infamous Nazi propaganda films Riefenstahl made under Hitler’s regime. This earlier, fairy tale-like film is notable for its lovely aesthetics, with Riefenstahl crafting an impressively other-worldly yet grounded existence through on-location shooting in the Brenta Dolomites of Ticino, Switzerland, and in Sarntal, South Tirol.
The storyline is quite simple, structured as a “frame story” in which Junta’s tale is told after visitors at a local hotel ask about her portrait:
Junta is perceived as a witch given her primitive existence in the mountains — and how many men die trying to reach the treasures she lives nearby — but Junta is actually a sympathetic presence, making the story’s denouement all the more tragic (though perhaps not surprising). This film isn’t must-see, but those who enjoy innovative films by early female directors may be curious to give it a look.
Notable Performances, Qualities, and Moments:
- Beautiful cinematography and imagery
- Fine location shooting
No; you can skip this one unless you’re curious.