Skip to main content

ALPINE FIRE

Switzerland, 1986 (MIFF 1988)

Director: Fredi M. Murer

Echoing the work of filmmakers such as Herzog (especially Kasper Hauser), Bunuel, Flaherty and Vincent Ward's Vigil, Alpine Fire takes place entirely on the high slopes of a mountain in the Swiss Alps and centres on the lives of a close-knit family, whose only neighbours are the wife's parents who live within signalling distance "Alpine Fire slips a treble whammy to everyone who thought that 'Swiss' and 'devastating' were contradictory terms Fredi Murer's film takes flight in its opening moments, and then soars all the way through to an ending as awesome and cathartic as the highest Greek tragedy Its impact springs directly from its method scrupulously detailed and naturalistic observation of a quite extraordinary reality the family's chief problem is their son, a slightly retarded deaf-mute, who is fast coming into puberty The time-honoured cure for his frustrations is rock-breaking, and the father sets his son to building stone walls, as he himself did in his youth But the boy's case is more extreme he takes off alone up the mountain and builds his own small empire of fortresses, towers and phallic monuments And when his teenage sister Belli comes to bring him food, she stays the night with him Murer's triumph is that he provides all the information without spelling anything out; he lets us discover these people and their relationships gradually through their actions, their faces, and most especially, through their looks at each other The central performances fromTho-mas Nock and Johanna Lier as the brother and sister are as startmgly physical as those in a film like The Ballad of fVar-ayama - and it's alongside Imamura's masterpiece that Alpine Fire takes its rightful place as the most moving 'family romance' in recent cinema " - Tony Rayns 'Time Out'

See also...

GREY ZONES

During an ordinary weekend. disconcerting things start to happen. Alfred. 37, employed as an electronic surveillance specialist with a big industrial concern, and his wife, Julia. who works at an ad ... More »

Humdrum

This evening Theo and his friend from work have gone to the pub. It is filled with the same old faces behaving in the same restrained fashion, talking over the same old things. Suddenly Theo stands ... More »

The Pulse of Time

The film traces in brief the whole development of man's methods of measuring time, from the days when the sun was his clock. ... More »

I Have Rights Over My Body: . . . Sterilisation

The film deals with the difficulties encountered by responsible, mature young men and women who are not married and have no children, yet decide to get sterilized ... More »

The Nails

Nails—large, small, thick, thin-are the actors of this film with a message about the dangers of the population explosion. ... More »

Hi Maya

In Claudia Lorenz's award-winning short, two old ladies meet unexpectedly at a hairdresser's. Maya recognises Charlotte, and Charlotte recognises Maya. But Maya denies they know each other. The ... More »

Select a festival
Search The Film Archive
Browse By Director