Way back in 1991, it was a pretty big deal when a frozen and preserved corpse was discovered in the Alps. It was in such good condition that they could analyze his blood. Years passed, and science (trust the science!) found blood samples of four other people on his weapons and clothes. They also discovered he died from an arrow in the back and not from exposure. That really got some imaginations running because someone decided a movie telling the possible story of this man would be a good idea – Iceman.
The story starts a few days before his eventual death. We learn he is the leader of a small tribe living by a creek in the mountains. One of the women gives birth but dies in the process. Afterward, his wife adopts the child to raise as their own.
Otzi, the leader, sets off to go hunt for food for the village. While he is gone some men raid the village. They rape and kill his wife, murder his son and the other half-dozen members of the tribe. They also take off with the village’s holy rock. Otzi comes back and finds everyone but the newborn dead. He takes this about as well as you’d expect and sets off after the trio who ended his entire world. Being the skilled village leader and the hunter that he is, tracking them is no problem.
On the way, we see him struggle with trying to keep the baby alive and protected. At one point he runs across two more hunters who have taken a third younger man as a possible slave. He wastes them and frees the younger man, who tries to follow him out of gratitude. Next, he comes across an old fellow played by Franco Nero, with his much younger wife. While spending the night with them, the woman tries to get him to sex her up. He declines but in the morning leaves the child with her. We see she and her mate are very pleased by this and it is clear they wanted a child.
As he continues on, he picks off one of the 3 raiders by luck and follows the other two across a snow-covered mountain range where he almost dies. Luckily for him, the younger boy he saved earlier pulls his stone-age ass out of trouble. Otzi finally finds the two men in their own little village and exacts his revenge, killing them right in front of their wives and kids. Very satisfying.
Being the good caveman that he is, he sleeps in the dead men’s hovel with one of the wives, then helps her and the kids burn their bodies on a funeral pyre. With his sacred stone recovered and his family and village avenged, he heads off into the mountains. Once at the top he clearly has a moment of doubt in his faith in whatever Gods he thinks the stone represents. In a rage, he tosses it off the mountain. I’m going to end my plot synopsis here because what happens after this shouldn’t be spoiled.
As for the movie itself, Iceman is beautifully shot. I don’t think I saw a bad frame in it. The characters all speak some caveman language and there are no subtitles, but you don’t need them. The story is so well told visually that you don’t need to know what they are saying. Part of the beauty is that you don’t need to understand the words. The dialogue is all in untranslated Rhaetian, which was an ancient Tyrsenian language spoken in the eastern Alps in pre-Roman and Roman times, dated from the 5th up until the 1st century BC.
The scenery is amazing. It is a German-Italian-Austrian production and was shot in the Tyrolean and Bavarian Alps, so is free from green screen apathy.
The violence is brutal and realistic and comes out of nowhere. Just like it does in ordinary life.
Iceman was written and directed by Felix Randau and you can watch it with your Amazon Prime membership. I do recommend it. It’s a solid revenge story, which I love. A new take on an old trope. Call it Deathwish B.C.
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