sun 09/08/2020

DVD/Blu-ray: Iceman | reviews, news & interviews

DVD/Blu-ray: Iceman

DVD/Blu-ray: Iceman

Prehistoric revenge thriller, with lots of hollering

Chronicle of a death foretold: Juergen Vogel in IcemanMartin Rattini

Much has been made of Iceman’s characters speaking the ancient Rhaetic dialect, unsubtitled, but that’s never a problem: Felix Randau’s no-frills revenge thriller doesn’t need any words. The juiciest bits of dialogue are the various grunts and shrieks uttered by the protagonist Kelab (Juergen Vogel). His outbursts are something else: pained, guttural explosions of rage and terror – if there was a prize for best shouting in a film, Vogel would be a shoo-in. Kelab is based on Ötzi, the "Tyrolean iceman", whose frozen, mummified body was uncovered by a pair of German tourists in 1991: Iceman offers a fictionalised account of Ötzi’s life, ending with his violent demise. It looks and feels pretty authentic, though Randau’s protagonists look a little too tall and well fed, with suspiciously even teeth.

Poor Kelab returns from a hunting trip to find that his settlement has been torched and its inhabitants murdered, including his wife and son. Picking up the one survivor, a newborn baby, Kelab stomps off in search of the killers, who’ve also snaffled the tribe’s sacred tineka, a wooden box whose contents baffle when they’re revealed near the close. What makes Iceman work is its thrilling sense of place, filmed in a landscape which has presumably changed little during the 5,300 years since Ötzi’s death. Vogel’s camera squeezes through narrow gorges, soars over mountain tops and wades through icy rivers, making Kelab’s odyssey all the more heroic. There’s a striking, fleeting scene where we see pursued and pursuer doggedly plodding over a snowy mountain ridge, their silhouettes set against a bright, clear sky.

IcemanThings get extremely bloody – I’m willing to believe that an axe colliding with someone’s head sounds exactly like it does here, and there’s a toe-curling moment when Kelab pushes his thumbs into an enemy’s eye sockets. The conclusion, when it arrives, is presumably as much as a surprise to Kelab as it was to Ötzi, his life snuffed out like those of the animals he hunts. Nifty editing and a decent score mean that Iceman zips by, and how refreshing to watch a film which only just exceeds the 90 minute mark.

You’d love to learn more about how Randau researched Iceman, and how he secured such convincing performances from his cast; about the costumes the characters wear, and whether the various props were authentic. Sadly, you won’t find that information here: no extras are provided, and there’s no director’s commentary – a real missed opportunity.

If there was a prize for best shouting in a film, Vogel would be a shoo-in


Editor Rating: 
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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