Tiefland (Original Title)

Pedro, a shepherd, is sleeping in his Pyrenean mountain hut when his herd is attacked by a lone wolf. He awakens to defend his sheep, and strangles the wolf. In the Catalan lowlands (northeastern Spain), the construction of a canal is completed and diverts water from the farms and fields of the peasants to support the prized bulls of the landowner, Don Sebastian, marquis of Roccabruno. The request of the peasants for water is arrogantly rejected. He has, however, significant debts and needs money. The rich Amelia plans to marry him, but he offends her. Martha, a “beggar dancer”, has come to the village, and entertains the people. Sebastian sees her and takes her to his castle, enchanted by her beauty and grace. He keeps her as his mistress in a "golden cage". Martha pleads with him to listen to the plight of the peasants, but he rejects their request again. Seeing his arrogance and inhumanity she runs away. She collapses in exhaustion in the mountains where Pedro finds her and takes her to his hut. Sebastian's men locate her and return her to the castle. Sebastian in dire need to settle his finances conjures a plan. He will marry Amelia, but to keep Martha as a mistress, - he wants her married to somebody he can manipulate and control. Pedro is asked to marry her and installed in a mill under Sebastian’s control. For this Martha despises Pedro at first, but once she realizes that he married her out of love she responds. Sebastian arrives to be with his mistress. A fight ensues, and Pedro strangles him like he had done with the wolf. In the final scene Pedro and Martha walk up to the mountains.

1h 39min
February 11, 1954
Admin comments

"I'll get my ass kicked for saying this (so what else is new), but this is a great movie. The composition of the visuals makes it utterly compelling. The Spanish setting comes totally to life, and I speak as someone who has visited the country. The cruelty of the aristocrats, the desperation of the peasants, the sensuality of the señoritas…it's all typical of the place, and you can see it in Spanish movies like Los Santos Inocentes (1984). That this should have been achieved by a bunch of foreigners shooting in 1940 is a tribute to the genius of director-star Leni Riefenstah." Prof_Lostiswitz26 February 2004

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