Movies and Motors Remake the Alps
This chapter examines how cable cars, new Alpine highways, and mountain films (Bergfilme) popularized the Alps in the 1920s and 1930s. The Alps, once a means to escape from the masses, had become a sanctuary for the masses during the interwar years. The number of visitors to the mountains increased exponentially, aided by the Zugspitzbahn and cable cars. Engineering marvels, most notably the Grossglockner High Alpine Road designed by Franz Wallack, etched new contours on the landscape. Arnold Fanck directed the majority of the popular mountain movies with respected mountaineer Luis Trenker as his star actor and Leni Riefenstahl as his leading lady. The films encouraged thousands to seek out the mountains. Such mass consumerism disgusted most die-hard climbers. Reactions varied, but nearly every response attempted to somehow change consumption patterns and scale back tourism in the Alps. Male chauvinists correlated the growing presence of women to the invasion of machines and condemned both. But some alpinists saw themselves engaged in a national effort against the forces of cultural disintegration and encouraged traffic. Hardcore mountaineers became increasingly reactionary and sought extremist solutions to the dilemmas of mass tourism.
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