University of Innsbruck


Delocating Mountains: Cinematic Landscapes and the Alpine Model

Delocating Mountains contributes to a new cultural and media history of cinematic mountains. While historical studies of the mountain film have focused on the legacy of the German Bergfilm of the 1920s and 30s as a pioneering moment and generic model of mountain films, this research project argues for a more comprehensive understanding of mountain cinema that includes earlier, forgotten, and neglected discourses on interactions between cinema and mountains. Cinematic mountains have been instrumental in conceptualizing the social, cultural, and technological mobility of the cinematic gaze. They have been crucial in remediating art-historical notions of landscape and in developing various strands of pictorial, figural, generic, affective, and ecocritical theories of film and media. [more]  

Premised on an understanding of mountains that emphasizes their modeling role in shaping and transforming landscape perception, this project approaches mountains as a dispositif rather than a motif of film. Instead of investigating the Alps as a traditional cinematic topos, it examines the impact of the so-called “Alpine model” (Mathieu 2011). Cinema played a seminal role in disseminating and transforming the Alpine model and both the Alpine model and cinematic mountains are characterized by conceptual and perceptual senses of delocation.

Approaching mountain cinema within a general framework of the Alpine model allows one to reflect on its wider aesthetic dimensions, its transnational ramifications as well as its political history from imperialism to recent environmental politics. Although cinematic mountains and the Alpine model address global sites and developments, this project concentrates on a transatlantic trajectory and sets out to explore aesthetic, geopolitical, and eco-cultural negotiations in European and North American mountain-film traditions. Methodologically, the proposed research draws on and contributes to the theories and vocabularies of media archaeology and media ecology (Cubitt 2005 and 2017; Ivakhiv 2013) as well as interdisciplinary mountain studies.

The project’s investigation of cinematic mountains is guided by three kinds of cinematic delocations––three innovative methods and research perspectives––that address (1) theoretical and conceptual implications of cinematic mountains, (2) geopolitical dimension and transnational aspects as well as (3) non-alpinist impulses in the cinematic mediation of mountains. This brings into relief a number of cinematic mountains often excluded from or neglected in discussions of mountain films and invites us to contemplate new configurations of cinematic mountains that gauge the very limits of the Alpine model.

Contact/ Project Leader

Univ.-Prof. Dr. Christian Quendler

Department of American Studies
University of Innsbruck
A-6020 Innsbruck, Innrain 52


This project is supported by the


Project Duration: May 2020 – November 2024

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