The Rebel

The Rebel

Der Rebell (Original Title)

1809. Napoleon is carving up Europe. A medical student (Luis Trenker) returns to his native Tyrol and discovers that the emperor’s troops have plundered his village and murdered his mother and sister. After killing a French officer in retaliation, the young patriot organizes a resistance movement. Luis Trenker’s Der Rebell (The Rebel) recounts the Tyrolean war of liberation against Napoleonic occupation. In a dazzling setpiece, rebel peasants, hidden high in the mountains, bombard French troops passing below with masive boulders and tree trunks. As Siegfried Kracauer put it, “It is an elaborate, roaring wholesale slaughter, with the mountains as the allies of the rebels.”

Der Rebell was produced with a huge budget by Deutsche Universal-Film, the German subsidiary of Hollywood’s Universal Pictures. (Universal also shot an English-language version of the film, with Vilma Banky co-starring in the Luise Ullrich role.) Germany had a long tradition of Bergfilme (mountain films), many of which Trenker starred in, but Der Rebell is the most stunning of them all and an elaborately mounted historical action-adventure war epic to boot. Its dénouement, in which the executed Tyrolean freedom fighter raises his flag and leads his followers toward Heaven, is as inspiring as Douglas Fairbanks’ similar conclusion to The Iron Mask.

1h 22min
December 22, 1932
Additional materials
How A. Hitler and J. Goebbels Exploited L. Trenker’s “Der Rebel” as potent Propaganda.

L. Trenker, Pan-German Nationalism, and the Bergfilm Tradition

Illustrierter Film-Kurier

Admin comments

Der Rebell is the most spectacular mountain film ever made; because of its breathtaking location cinematography by Sepp Allgeier, it is also more impressive than most Hollywood action pictures. Luis Trenker’s rugged performance in the John Wayne mold is as charismatic as anyone Hollywood ever put on the screen. Directed by Kurt Bernhardt and Luis Trenker. Starring Luis Trenker, Luise Ullrich, Victor Varconi, Fritz Kampers. Cinematography by Sepp Allgeier and Albert Benitz. Music by Dr. Giuseppe Becce. - IHF

One of Hitler's favorite films. I think that the main advantage of the film are in the beautiful and complex natural shots. This is an undeniable achievement for the 1930’s.

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