Wednesday, 22 June 2011

The Matterhorn as AnimatedSource of Identity


The Matterhorn is the iconic mountain in Switzerland and features on many 'Swiss' Products or as part of a logo as for example with Toblerone the Swiss chocolate in triangular shape, a abstraction of the Matterhorn itself.

There are of course other mountains, such as the Eiger or the Stockhorn, but the Matterhorn is definitely the best mountain as a brand. This si definitely also a lot to do with tourism and the way Zermatt, the village grown resort at the foot of the Matterhorn has managed to build up a name internationally and retain a popularity. This happened definitely in a symbiosis between the village and the mountain. Zermatt is probably thee days one of the most famous car free resort in the world.

Toblerone logo
Image taken from smudgecoverglasses / The Toblerone logo. Can you spot the hidden creature in the logo? Hint, its the animal representing the chocolate's home town, the Swiss capital actually.

The Matterhorn is with 4'478 meters on of the talest peaks in the Alps. And as it is described on Wikipedia: "The Matterhorn was the last great Alpine peak to be climbed and its first ascent marked the end of the Golden Age of Alpinism. It was made in 1865 by a party led by Edward Whymper and ended tragically when four of its members fell to their deaths on the descent. The north face was not climbed until 1931, and is amongst the six great north faces of the Alps. The Matterhorn is one of the deadliest peaks in the Alps: from 1865 – when it was first climbed – to 1995, 500 alpinists died on it."

The Golden Age of Alpinism was not lead by Swiss or French people, who lived in the valleys and Villigas surrounding the peaks, but it was mainly English climbers and explorers who fueled and pushed alpinism. It is the period between the ascent of the Wetterhorn in 1854 and Edward Whymper's ascent of the Matterhorn in 1865. Its start predates the formation of the Alpine Club in London in 1857, the Golden Age was dominated by British alpinists accompanied by their Swiss and French guides.

BBC run a series on this topic with a group of mountaineers retracing some of the most famous routes. Also Britannica Online has a extended blogpost on the Golden Age, the Matterhorn and Eduard Whymper.

All this started more than 150 years ago and it is still to this day acting as a deining element for a wider region, a range of brands and as icon. This is not to say that it hasn't already fulfilled such a role earlier. THe mountains do in fact as we all know very much so play an important role in old stories and myths. THey are definitely a strong source of identity.

In his stopMotion animation Willem van den Hoed plays with this subject of the Matterhorn as the focal point of a place and illustrates this poetically from different angles. Very much a nice clip and a good portrait of a mountain representing an age, a region and a dream.

The film was also part of the "Film in de buurt - Festival" in Rotterdam (2007) and shown at the Willem van den Hoed - exhibition, "Glass" at Galerie Litfasssaeule in Munich until the 11th of November 2007. Also shown at the Raiffeisen open Air Kino Zermatt (2008).

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