Ötzi the Iceman Stars in a New Feature Film

By Nathaniel Scharping | December 15, 2017 2:13 pm
Jurgen Vogel is Otzi the Iceman. (Credit: Port au Prince 24/Bilder)

Jürgen Vogel is Ötzi the Iceman. (Credit: Port au Prince 24/Bilder)

From a block of ice to the silver screen; Ötzi the Iceman, an archaeological star, is getting his own feature film.

From German director Felix Randau, the movie is a fictionalized account of Ötzi’s life and eventual death at the hands of an unknown archer in the Alps. Though the story is mostly fictional, the clothing, props and setting were all recreated with the help of researchers from the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology, with the goal of creating a story that could have potentially played out 5,300 years ago. It’s called “Der Mann Aus Dem Eis,” or the much-more-concisely-translated “Iceman.”

**Spoilers Ahead**

If you didn’t know already, Ötzi dies at the end—this is a spoiler akin to revealing the end of Titanic.

That fact we know for certain, given that he was found in 1991 near the Austria-Italy border frozen into a block of ice. The ancient hunter, played by German actor Jürgen Vogel, was likely killed by an arrow to his left shoulder and a nasty knock to the head that left him bleeding out in the snow. Luckily for us, he was covered by snow and ice soon after his demise, leaving him astonishingly well-preserved. Scientists have been able to study the contents of his stomach, his more than 60 tattoos, his voice, his clothinghis DNA and much more.

The story is probably the most fantastical part of the movie, though Randau maintains that it’s within the boundaries of what could have actually happened. When a rival tribe attacks and kills his family, making off with a ritual mirror in the process, Ötzi, called Kelab in the movie, sets out through the wintry Alps to exact revenge. From the trailer, the movie doesn’t skimp on action sequences as the 40-something Ötzi — an old man for the time — taps into his Neolithic Liam Neeson. We know it doesn’t end well for him, though there’s hopefully some measure of redemption along the way.

Attention to Detail

The rest of the film strives to be as accurate as possible, though. The vast body of research into Ötzi’s remains, along with guidance from researchers who have worked with him, helped Randau craft a story that will hopefully offer a true-to-life glimpse at life in the Neolithic.

In the movie Ötzi wears goat-leather leggings and a bear-fur hat similar to those the Iceman was found wearing when he died, and carries the same tools — a copper axe, bow and arrows and a rabbit net. Ötzi’s tattoos were recreated for the movie as well, and it was shot in the South Tyrolean Alps near where the Iceman was discovered. The huts are based on dwellings found in the region from the same time period. As you can see from the opening of the trailer, they mirrored Ötzi’s final resting position.

Even the dialogue hews close to what Ötzi may have heard during his life. The lines in the movie were all written in a made-up tongue based on Raethic, a language spoken in the region during Roman and pre-Roman times. There are no subtitles, so audiences will have to work out for themselves what’s being said.

The representations of family life and inter-tribe dynamics are harder to get right, due to a lack of data in those areas, as well as the ritual practices of Neolithic tribes. We have some idea of their beliefs from studies of burial practices, but Ötzi died alone as far as we can tell, with no one to tend to his remains.

Regardless, the actual story of his life would surely made for a thrilling movie. “Iceman” has a 6.5/10 rating on IMBD right now.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Living World, top posts
MORE ABOUT: archaeology
  • http://www.mazepath.com/uncleal/qz4.htm Uncle Al

    ‘Tis a pity they omitted lanolin orgies. “Neolithic tribes” Indigenous North Americans prior to European First Contact. A mounted, helmed, and armored Conquistador with a Toledo rapier was a slaughter machine against, at best, Bronze Age weapons on foot.

  • OWilson


    I’m sure Otzi looked absolutely nothing like a modern German Movie Star :)

    A “ritual mirror”?

    • TLongmire

      If you consider that only the fittest survived during that time then it makes perfect sense that he would be physically fit and that every woman would be attractive. 5300 years ago is not that far back In an evolutionary view, only culturally. Thru infant eyes an object that holds the world within it would have had profound significance to anyone that discovered it.

      • OWilson

        I suggest a trip to your local library, or even peruse pre 1940 National Geographic magazines to see what hunters and gatherers, and indigenous peoples around the world really looked like.

        And still do! :)

        Mirrors for selfies, 5300 years ago?

      • Erik Bosma

        Standards of ‘attraction’ between sexes were an awful lot different in those days. Most of the babes of this period would today be called plus-sized and would all have big ole child bearing hips. The skinny little ‘worthless’ supermodels of today wouldn’t stand a chance back then. They would have either been killed and probably eaten, sold off as slaves or grown up as old maids looking after the old people in the village depending on their familial connections (see next paragraph).
        Also, there is evidence of Neanderthals from over 30,000 years ago who lived long after their physically useful days were over. In other words, they had senior care back then way before Otzi.

        • Alice Alba

          You realise your rant about slim people has no basis in evidence, right?

          • Erik Bosma

            The fact that I said it means that there is a basis in evidence or I wouldn’t have said it. Try reading The Language Of The Goddess by Marija Gimbutas or most anything by Joseph Campbell. Or Google the Mother Goddess and check out Catalhoyuk etc etc etc.

          • Erik Bosma

            By the way, using the word “rant” when I was just leaving a comment obviously showed that I jostled a chip on your shoulder. Your issue; not mine.

  • Erik Bosma

    So if he had a copper axe wouldn’t he be an example of life in the Chalcolithic or perhaps the borderline Bronze Age or, at least, the Eneolithic? Uncle Al??


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