Today on ZDF: "The man from the ice" is like a trip to the Stone Age camp

The sensation was great when the “Ötzi” glacier mummy was found in 1991. Felix Randau has made a film from the legendary life story of the dead. Tonight for the first time on Free TV.


“The Man from the Ice” leads back to the Neolithic. About 5,300 years ago, Kelab and his family lived in the Ötztal Alps. The idyll is suddenly destroyed when a group of robbers attack the settlement. The sanctuary is stolen, Kelab’s entire family is cruelly murdered. The angry village head sets off to take revenge on the criminals.

Felix Randau’s adventure streak is one of these works, which critics like to describe with arguments that begin with the phrase “For a German film …”. In fact, one has to say that the last days of Ötzi are impressively illustrated “for a German film”. Everything here is geared towards naturalism, the rough everyday life in the Alps should be captured as unadorned as possible. The film succeeds quite well.

You get an impression of how it must have felt to have lived in this barren time. Always afraid of the next violent attack. And miracles still happen: In “The Man from the Ice” the camera is even allowed to move from time to time. Extremely unusual “for a German film”! And yet one has to ask oneself: How low does the demand on the cinema have to be if one starts to burst into jubilation from these impressive natural shots?

The German “Revenant”?

Some felt so free in the wake of the theatrical release in 2017 to call “The Man from the Ice” as “German answer to ‘The Revenant'”. Well, the Ötzi film is ultimately exactly how you would imagine a German answer to “The Revenant”. Stolen solidly, otherwise nothing of its own. Where Alejandro González Iñárritus survival trip with Leonardo DiCaprio actually became a large-scale, archaic cinematic experience, “The Man from the Ice” feels more like breaking into the local archeology museum and then having a bow and arrow in the forest Stone Age played.

The adventure film cannot free itself from its artificiality. Everything is trimmed to “real”. A few chunks of original fantasy language are whispered. Of course without subtitles! It would destroy authenticity. Jürgen Vogel, with full commitment as the German Leonardo DiCaprio, can go on an extreme hike through mountains and valleys and ice crevices and stir a little in the muddy puddle. Is meant nicely and always more interesting than the culture of German cinema comedies. But what do you do with this tough mountain hike?

Forgive and forget

The imagined vision of Ötzi’s death here is nothing more than an old-fashioned Western revenge story, as you could tell it in your sleep. It looks a bit like trying to put a few descriptions from the history textbook into pictures. So that you can pat yourself on the back at the end and think: it must have been that way! Fortunately, that is far away. Well, maybe it’s not. Here you completely miss to relate our present to this narrative, but instead banish the images to the past. Pure show values. A history lesson that only fishes in cloudy conditions. One would like to grant the students in Germany that their history teachers do not terrorize them with this sluggish alpine ham!

“The Man from the Ice” is running this evening at 11:45 p.m. on ZDF in the series “Shooting Stars – Young Cinema in the Second”. The film will also be available as a stream in the ZDF media library until August 14th.

Image source:

  • ötzi: ZDF
  • dermannausdemeis: ZDF / Martin Rattini


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