Die Weisse Majestät
(White Majesty)

Jakob Burckhardt and Bundesrichter Dr. Reymond

Directed by Anton Kutter and August Kern (1933)

CAST:

     Gustav Dießl (Jakob Burckhardt)
     Hertha Thiele (Monika Amatter)
     Beni Führer (Beni Amatter)
     Emil Höfer (Postmaster Thöni)
     Stefan Bloetzer (Stefan Thöni)
     Thekla Ahrens (Greta)
     Carl de Vogt (Bundesrichter Dr. Reymond)


The film opens with spectacular shots of the Alps. We see three skiers rushing down a mountain to arrive at a large luxury hotel. They inform the hotel's manager that an avalanche may be coming down the mountain. The sheetings that contain the snow have eroded, and the course of the avalanche may go either harmlessly down one side of the mountain or come crashing down on the hotel.

The Manager offers men up to 800 franks to set off explosions to control the avalanche, but no one will risk going up the mountain. In desperation, the Manager calls in Jakob Burckardt who agrees to do the job for 500 franks after he hears that 200 guests are endangered. He climbs up the mountain carrying explosives and diverts the course of the avalanche and saves the hotel.

A group of villagers discuss Jakob. They consider him a bum as his parents weren't married. They also are upset that now that Jakob's father has died, he is living illegally on his father's land. No one has seen a will leaving the land to Jakob which means that he has to leave.

At his hut, Jakob tells his St. Bernard that he will use the 500 franks to wed Monika Anatter. Meanwhile, Monika tells her girlfriend Greta that she is unhappy because her father wants her to marry Stefan as her father owes Stefan's father a debt. Her friend slyly suggests that Jakob is the handsomer man.

Jakob visits Monika's father and gives him the 500 franks. When Jakob goes back into the town, the men of the town demand to see his father's will or Jakob must leave. Jakob refuses to talk with them and stomps off. The village priest says he will call a friend, Bundesrichter Dr. Reymond, to settle the matter. Jakob goes to his hut and takes a look at the will that he has hidden behind a painting of the Virgin. It says he must climb the east face of Monte Verita to inherit his father's land. This side of the mountain is very dangerous and has never been climbed before. Climbing it will prove that Jakob is fit to inherit.

Jakob goes to Monika who tries to avoid him. She won't speak with him and goes to visit her father. We see Monika's father paying off a debt of 500 franks to the postman. Monika comes in and asks her father where he got the money. He tells her it was from Jakob, and she smiles. Jakob Burckhardt and Monika Amatter

Jakob goes into the town bar where a group of men are drinking beer. Monika's brother Beni taunts Jakob about the 500 franks, and Jakob leaves. Stefan tells Beni that he wants to marry Monika.

Beni goes to his father's house and accuses Monika of leading on Stefan. Why did she allow Jakob to give her father 500 franks? She flees, and Beni tells Greta that he was only teasing Monika.

Stefan tells his father that he wants to marry Monika. His father wants him to marry someone with money. He tells Stefan that he collected 500 franks from Monika's father that morning. Stefan goes to town and runs into Monika. Jakob sees them and goes into the bar where Beni and his friends are drinking. Jakob gets drunk and Stefan comes in. The men discuss climbing the east face of Monte Verita in the morning. Jakob goes off, and Beni tells Stefan that the 500 franks came from Jakob.

Stefan runs home and demands the 500 franks from his father the postman. He then puts in into a postal savings account for Monika and lists Jakob as the donor. Later the postman passes Monika and congratulates her on her savings account. She knows nothing of what he is talking about. Monika visits Jakob, and he shows her the will. They are interrupted by one of the townsmen who says that the Bundesricht Dr. Reymond has arrived, and that Stefan, Jakob and Dr. Reymond are to climb the mountain (not the dangerous east face) the next day.

The next morning the three go up the mountain. While resting Dr. Reymond says to Stefan that he needs to speak to Jakob alone. Stefan goes around a bend out of sight of the two men. Dr. Reymond tells Jakob that he is trying to help and that in the absence of a will, local custom demands that he climb the mountain. Jakob refuses his help. There is a small avalanche which sweeps Dr. Reymond into the abyss. Stefan comes back and accuses Jakob of letting Dr. Reymond die.

Meanwhile, Monika overhears Beni telling her father that the three men are on the mountain and that this will end the marriage situation. She rushes to Jakob's hut and gets the will. Beni also goes to the hut, but the St. Bernard frightens him away. The townspeople climb to the spot where Dr. Reymond has fallen and Jakob is accused. He denies everything and leaves, shunned by everyone.

Beni & Monika's father go to Jakob's hut to confront him, but they find only Monika. Beni tells her that Jakob has killed Dr. Reymond, and Monika faints.

The townspeople erect a large cross where Dr. Reymond has fallen. They hold a trial and Jakob swears he is innocent. He is allowed to go free on his word of honor, but the villagers ostracize him. Even Monika doesn't know what to say to Jakob. Jakob stalks off, and when their paths cross later, they don't speak to each other.

That Sunday the town is holding a festival. There is a shooting competition, but the other men refuse to shoot with Jakob. He shoots alone, but the target setters rig the results to show that he has completely missed the targets. He then shoots a tiny transistor atop a telephone pole and leaves. Stefan walks Monika home and formally asks her to marry him. She tells him she cannot as she loves Jakob.

That evening Beni comes home drunk. He finds Stefan sitting alone in the dark. Stefan tells Beni that he will climb the dangerous east face of Monte Verita and asks Beni to come along. Beni eagerly agrees.

The postman tells Monika that Stefan will climb the east face the next morning and become a famous climber. Monika rushes off to tell Jakob. She warns him that he must prove his innocence by climbing the east face first.

The next morning, Jakob has a head start on climbing the mountain, but Beni and Stefan doggedly follow him. The whole town below watches the contest. After scaling a particularly difficult section of the mountain, Jakob gives a shout of triumph. Stefan, far behind, is bushed and tells Beni they should return home. Beni taunts him and tells him that if he wants to marry Monika he must go ahead. They continue on, but it is obvious that Stefan is in bad shape. Finally he misses his footing and hangs by a proverbial "thread" hundreds of feet in the air. Beni is holding him aloft by the guide rope and cannot hold on much longer. He yells for help, and Jakob comes to their rescue. A sheepish Beni offers Jakob his hand and Jakob accepts it. Jakob then turns around and continues to the top of the mountain.

Down below the townspeople cheer Jakob. Monika runs up and gives the mayor Jakob's copy of the will. The mayor reads it to the townspeople and declares that God has spoken.

Jakob and Monika meet in a pretty alpine meadow. Presumably they will live happily ever after.

This is the only time that Carl appeared with Gustav Dießl or Hertha Thiele or was directed by Anton Kutter.

Copies of this film may be obtained at www.headfilm.ch.