It is a beautiful day in the Alps.
A young doctor named Marc Pelletier is spending the
day in a log cabin in the Ötztal mountains with his girlfriend Anne.
Marc and Anne are on stand-by for the mountain rescue
service. A snowboarder is in deadly peril - it
turns out to be Michael,
Anne's brother. Marc, Anne and
a helicopter pilot
try to rescue Michael, who is hanging on to a rock ledge
and losing his hold. The rescue attempt fails and Michael falls
to his death. Anne is completely devastated.
Eight years later Marc, who now lives in
Paris, happens to see on a TV news report that
Michael's body has been recovered in
the mountains near the village of Vent, Austria.
He travels to Vent for Michael's
funeral, but Anne wants nothing to do
with him. To this day, she hasn't been able to get over the
death of her brother, or the fact that Marc disappeared without
a word shortly afterwards. This is part of the reason why all
these years she has kept it from Marc that they have a son,
named Nik. Anne doesn't want Nik to know who his father is. She
has told him that his father is dead.
As Marc is driving away from Vent the next morning, a coach full
of ski tourists is hit by an avalanche. All the passengers
manage to escape from the coach with minor injuries, but the
road is now impassable. The weather deteriorates. Just as
Marc and Anne talk for the first time about the failed rescue
attempt eight years before, a rumble echoes through the valley.
A gigantic, seething mass of ice and snow surges at increasing
speed down into the valley and towards the village. It tears
doors and windows from their frames, roofs from houses, and
entire buildings from their foundations. Then a wall of snow
engulfs the village, burying lanes, streets, and the spaces
between houses in its wake. Will Marc and
Anne survive this disaster?
TV film project was originally referred to by its German title, "Die
but was later called "Avalanche". The German-French-Austrian
co-production was created as a
high-impact blend of human drama and natural catastrophe for
prime-time viewing. The digital avalanche images were created by
renowned German CGI specialist Scanline. Filming, which ran from
January until March 2008, took place in Vent, Austria, and on
the back lot of Bavaria Studios in Geiselgasteig near Munich.
Due to the relatively snowless winter, the avalanche scenes were
shot in the studios, requiring artificial and real snow to be
brought in. For director Jörg Jühdorff and DOP Philipp Timme,
this production provided many challenges. In addition to a
five-minute sequence depicting the avalanche itself, there were
numerous action elements of all kinds - from a bus driving off a
bridge to crashing helicopters and collapsing buildings, not to
mention hair-raising stunts on and off the edge of a 1500-foot
cliff. Some scenes were shot at 1900 meters altitude and in
temperatures hovering around minus 20 degrees Celsius.
On the script:
One sees few catastrophe films on
television. The idea of a re-enactment of an actual event interested me.
This avalanche took place ten years ago (note: in Montroc in February 1999).
A whole population was cut off from the world. People died. I liked
the story of this man who tries to overcome nature but often, it is stronger
than him. I was also allured by the story of the man who dies in a climbing
accident and is found eight years later. It's an interesting starting point
when the inhabitants of the village meet to bury him. Lastly, I appreciated
the development of my character who immerses himself in his past and
realizes that those scars are not completely closed.
high mountain rescuers:
They are extraordinary people.
The rescuers are true heroes on the mountain and in the sea. It is a trade
which could have attracted me. The mountain is deeply anchored in me,
perhaps because I spent my childhood in Switzerland. The place where
we filmed at the Austrian and Italian border is splendid. I adore mountain
excursions. They empty the head and give strength and energy.
It was a rather difficult shoot. The
weather was very cold. We received tons of snow with a deafening sound. In
the scene where I am stranded in the car with Désirée Nosbusch, I felt
claustrophobic. I was like a prisoner and couldn't move. While being wedged
in this car and surrounded by two meters of snow, I had moments of
smothering and of panic. This scene took days of filming. At any given
moment, it could become extremely painful.
collaboration with the cast and crew:
All went very well. I met Désirée
Nosbusch on location and I was delighted to be with Aladdin Reibel. The team
was very qualified. It gave me pleasure to film in the mythical
studios of Bavaria. The German director, Jörg Lühdorff, was formidable. He
often works on films by Roland Emmerich ("Independence Day"). Making a
catastrophe film demands a certain kind of director and successful
special effects. The team was perfect for this ambitious project.
Vincent Perez.....Marc Pelletier
Jacques Spiesser.....Father Joseph
by.....Walter Kärger, Jörg Lühdorff and Wolf
Cinematography by.....Jens Klüber
Music by.....Wolfram de Marco & Bavaria Sonor
Produced by Alma Productions/Bavaria
Televised on TF1 on January 5, 2009
Region 2 DVD available