Peak

Hannes Lang

Germany 2011.

Over the course of a year, Peak observes this production process in the Alps and uncovers what is usually hidden from the winter tourists beneath a thick blanket of artificial snow. The film shows the landscapes’ modifications and the inextinguishable traces that these invasions leave behind. Peak questions the relationship between nature and technology. How artificial is a landscape allowed to be? Or – to put it differently – how artificial must it look in order to fulfil and justify our archaic desire for paradise on earth? 

Peak opens with giant tableaus and wide panoramas. Majestic mountain tops and valleys as far as any eye can see. Nature in all its grandeur. Then suddenly from nowhere people emerge. Skiers. Tourists. And the following images show humans using great and strange machines to transform nature. Some humans use nature for recreational purposes, others as a means of production. The interaction with nature is beyond understanding. Three tons of explosives are used to blow away rocks from the mountains. Snow guns are developed and modified to create a growing demand for tons of artificial snow. A re-creation of a nature that is vanishing.

Changes in the environment is the central issue in Peak. And there’s a good resonance between two main themes; on one hand the efforts to save the skiing industry in the area mainly by the use of a giant water reservoir; and artificial snow created with water from the reservoir and on the other hand the ongoing depopulation in the surrounding mountain areas where only a few small groups of elderly people live. The film clearly illustrates how people come to terms in very different ways with the environmental changes: some people escape their childhood home and move to larger cities with more opportunities and less dependence on nature. Others make great efforts to develop technology that can master nature. They are stubborn people who will not hear talk of connections between environmental changes and human behaviour. They believe that there is always a solution to any problem, always a way out.

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