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The Blue Light (1932)

Das blaue Licht - Eine Berglegende aus den Dolomiten (original title)
When the moon is full, young men die attempting to reach the mysterious blue light in the mountains.

Directors:

Leni Riefenstahl, Béla Balázs (uncredited)

Writers:

Béla Balázs, Leni Riefenstahl (story)
Reviews
1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview:
Leni Riefenstahl ... Junta
Mathias Wieman ... Vigo
Beni Führer Beni Führer ... Tonio
Max Holzboer Max Holzboer ... Innkeeper
Martha Mair Martha Mair ... Lucia
Franz Maldacea Franz Maldacea ... Guzzi
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Storyline

Junta is hated by the people in the village where she lives, especially by the women, who suspect her of being a witch. Only she can climb the nearby mountains to a cave high up, whence a mysterious blue light glows when the moon is full. Many young men of the village have died trying to follow her. She is driven out of town, and takes to living in the mountains. Eventually she shares the secret of the blue light with one man, and he betrays it. Written by John Oswalt <jao@jao.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama | Fantasy | Mystery

Certificate:

See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Germany

Language:

German | Italian

Release Date:

8 May 1934 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Blue Light See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Tobis-Klangfilm)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Adolf Hitler counted this film among his favorites. It prompted him to ask director Leni Riefenstahl to shoot Triumph of the Will (1935), the famous documentary of the Sixth Nazi Party Congress in Nuremberg. See more »

Alternate Versions

The first version in 1932 acknowledged all creative assistants. In 1938 she gave all story concept to her not of a Dolomite legend and then later in 1952 she even emitted the Jewish 'Béla Balázs' refusing to pay his last installment of fees. See more »

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User Reviews

Emptiness in full bloom
18 October 2011 | by chaos-rampantSee all my reviews

Film at its purest form for me is a space of contemplation. Being a reflection of light and shadow it can never be the real thing of course, it is merely the mirror that holds the image - which is contrary to a lot of the myth that we have glorified around cinema as the thing in itself. A lot of those images reach our eyes randomly reflected, haphazardly, or the mirror is pointed without care. It's a pain in the ass to watch these, because you know the filmmaker doesn't mean what he sees.

But sometimes, in capable hands, they reflect truly: meaning of course not that they portray the world truly, as it truly is, if we could ever get two people in the same room to agree on their experience of that room, but exactly by dint of being reflections cast from lights inside, and so like a dream is always true even as it is essentially unreal, or like the old tribal ceremonies around the world were from an outside perspective merely the primitive imitation of a scene from familiar life, but from inside the dance allowed the participant, exactly by the token of his willing submission in the shared soul, to sink himself in the level behind the familiar narrative and there purify himself with just the images; in just the same way film can penetrate beneath the dream or ceremony, by substituting for it, and purify with a glimpse of how images, life itself, are stirred into being.

It is a real joy to be able to watch these films; what they offer is akin to the experience of ecstacy, introspection from outside the self. But first we have to invest ourselves in them, and the film needs to operate from the center. What we get in turn is not just the image, this is important, but an image we understand is being mirrored, this is the perspective we're missing in real life. So not an aesthetic, but a way of seeing.

Look here. The story revolves around a small village at the foot of a mountain. Every fullmoon mysterious lights glint from the top and the men climb the rock to discover. Every time they fall from it - and are symbolically embodied inside the rock as small statues. But there's a woman in all this, an outcast, a pariah exactly because she can freely venture where they can't, who knows the secret pathway.

The mystery is of course simple, as the man who climbs her soul to discover in turn comes to know; crystals that reflect that same moonlight seen from below.

So the source of so much allure and sacrifice was merely the reflected light from the real thing that was plainly visible above their heads the whole time; and which they shied away from in fear as an evil portent of their own impotence and disaster. Oh, eventually they're allowed to get their hands on the coveted treasure, which now as well as before reflects truly upon them.

But the woman, Leni Riefenstahl, casts a longer shadow in all of this, whose soul the treasure is snatched from to satisfy the social good. She illuminates deeper for this - twice herself in the film, as both actress and filmmaker - because we know now that she was surrounding herself with real darkness at the time. Of course it was never a social good her treasures gave voice to, but rather something that just had to be deemed so because society collectively pulled that way.

Too many words. You just have to see how she arrays herself in this. Her face when she discovers the crystals plucked from her cave, a mask of so much anguish and heartbreak, and then imagine how many real nights she must have spent huddled behind that mask for the rest of her life following WWII.

Of course for her, the character, it was always the beauty of the thing that stirred the heart. But not a beauty such as you appreciate in an art gallery or read from a book. Beauty that makes the body stir from sleep and by some intuitive pull is drawn to climb the steep rock - and the discovery of the path, no doubt, was also intuitive - for a fleeting glimpse of what?

But of course emptiness in full bloom. Wonderful bloom.

I suggest you see this with the sound muted - it's poorly integrated inside the film - and music of your choice like you would watch a silent. It's a magical film of interior landscapes.


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