The Conquest of the Alps

Over the mountain - Through the mountain - Up the mountain - The White Coal - The Pioneers

Authors: Christian Bauer, Hannes Schuler, Manfred Baur, Daniela Agostini. No genre - BR - 2009 - 5 x 45 min

In the heart of Europe there lies a desert of snow, ice and rock. Vast, violent and with extreme climatic conditions, this desert is known as the Alps. It is no place for man. Indeed for the longest time in history, the Alps were a hostile region which offered but a handful of dangerous routes through them.

The age of industrialisation led the human imagination to soar to new heights. Pioneers wanted to harness fire, steam, coal and iron to defy time and space. The forefathers of human flight risked their lives in hand-modelled aircraft so as to defeat the mountains' hazards by flying over them. Until then, the Alps had been an impassable barrier, but industrialisation led technicians, engineers and businessmen to use the latest inventions to develop the hostile mountain terrain.

The visionaries were backed up by ranks of engineers and workers. Their working conditions in the perilous and inhospitable landscape were always They slept in primitive accommodation on the mountainside and many either fell to their deaths or lost their lives to illness or in dynamite explosions. Their work logs and letters back home tell of the deprivation of the years of long hard work.

With a combination of high-quality documentary footage, archive material and computer animation, we show the massive challenges those workers and engineers faced. Their dreams, defeats and victories form the emotional backdrop for this, the first major historical documentary series to recount the exciting and moving story of the development of the Alps over the last two centuries.