Sepp Allgeier

Archetype of a Camera Man

He was the first to shoot from the air, the first in snow, the first in the arctic – Sepp Allgeier, Freiburg’s legendary camera man. His career began before World War I, when he filmed a skiing tour with Arnold Fanck. It was the first ascent of Monte Rosa on skis. With Fanck in the twenties Allgeier shot such film classics as "Die weiße Hölle am Piz Palü" (White Hell on Piz Palü) or "Stürme über dem Montblanc" (Storms over Mont Blanc). His pictures brought the world of the mountains and snow into city living rooms. The films ran in the capitols of the world. In New York they were sold out for months. Hollywood stars like Douglas Fairbanks were awestruck, as they watched Allgeier‘s daring footage, "Where on earth is the camera positioned for these shots?"

Luis Trenker and Leni Riefenstahl started their careers in front of Allgeier’s camera. When they went on to direct films themselves, Sepp Allgeier was their camera man. Luis Trenker’s best known film "The Rebel" was not only Allgeier’s best film, it was also a turning point in his career – Adolf Hitler noticed the talented camera man. Allgeier became the Third Reich’s star camera operator. Among other positions, he was chief camera man for the famous / infamous Riefenstahl film "Triumph of Will". After the war, however, Allgeier never regained his earlier status of the twenties and thirties. For a short while he was chief camera man at the newly founded Southwest Television station, but he found that television and its time pressures were no longer his world. Before they had camped in mountain huts for weeks, waiting for just the right lighting. Now with TV, everything had to happen quickly. Now former radio reporters were telling him what to shoot. Sepp Allgeier died in Freiburg at 73 in 1968. A street named after him in his home town reminds us of the camera pioneer. Sepp Allgeier – a great career full of lights and shadows.

Produced by

SWR

A film by

Sigrid Faltin

Year

1999

Running time

30 min.

Team

  • Camera: Siegfried Maier
  • Sound: Rainer Bloch
  • Editor: Kirsten Peters

„We produce documentary films - it's real life that interests us.“
Sigrid Faltin, white pepper films

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white pepper Filmgesellschaft

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mail (at) whitepepper.de

Schlierbergstrasse 25A
79100 Freiburg
Germany