TF1 TV Film Germany/France 2009
87 minutes




Synopsis: 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?


Production Information:
This TV film project was originally referred to by its German title, "Die
Jahrhundertlawine", 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.


vletter.gif (1289 bytes)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.

On 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.

On conditions while filming:
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.

On 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
Desiree Nosbusch.....Anne
Joel Eisenblatter.....Nik
Aladin Reibel.....Anton
Coraly Zahonero......Helena
Jacques Spiesser.....Father Joseph
Sebastian Edtbauer.....Michael


Directed by.....Jörg Lühdorff
Written by.....Walter Kärger, Jörg Lühdorff and Wolf Larsen
Cinematography by.....Jens Klüber
Music by.....Wolfram de Marco & Bavaria Sonor

Produced by Alma Productions/Bavaria Films

Televised on TF1 on January 5, 2009

Region 2 DVD available


Production Photos


Movie Stills