Iceman (2017) ***

July 22nd, 2018
Author: Meredith Taylor

Dir/scr: Felix Randau. Germany/Italy/Austria. 2017. 97 mins

Felix Randau opts for a rather unimaginative approach in this imagined drama about the final days of Alpine warrior Otzi, whose perfectly preserved body was found in 1991, over 5,000 years after he perished in an Italian glacier. With its captivating Alpine scenery and visceral depiction of life back then ICEMAN is nevertheless convincing and we do feel for Otzi and the savage world he inhabits.

This is Randau’s third feature and easily his most ambitious both in scope and budget and it provides solid entertainment for those keen on natural history and truth-based stories from way back when, recalling films like Pathfinder (1987) or even The Revenant (2016) and might inspire other filmmakers to try a more dynamic approach with a film about the 3,000 year old Ur-David, a red-haired Eurasian discovered in China, or our own Lindow Man whose remains emerged from around 2,000 years ago in a peat bog in Cheshire,

The characters here speak an untranslated version of the Rhaetic language but this actually works to the film’s advantage capturing our imagination about this ancient community of nomads, and providing a more peaceful, almost meditative experience.

We first meet Kelab (Jurgen Vogel) who lives in a cave with his pigs, goats and fur-clothed family, foraging for nourishment in the local forests. There appears to be a spiritual element to their existence, and one day while out hunting, his wife and son are brutally slaughtered leaving only their baby who Kelab takes with him on his journey into the snowy South Tyrol wilderness to find the holy shrine of Tineka.

Venturing into the breathtaking beauty of windswept mountain peaks and rugged snowscapes Kelab struggles on in the wilderness as the film turns into a gripping fight for survival when a dramatic fall into a deep crevasse saves him from the spears of two vicious warriors. An eerie atmospheric score ramps up the tension as Kelab fights on, Jurgen Vogel giving a nuanced performance that considerably adds to what might have been a rather unreachable character.┬áIt’s a scenic and cinematic experience and a brilliant depiction of the sheer basic savagery of life in that grim Neolithic world. MT


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