In Thomas Mann's novel The Magic Mountain, protagonist Hans Castorp spends seven years in a Swiss sanatorium, where the rarefied mountain air places him in a different reality, outside of time. Though the book is not directly referenced, this essayistic documentary by Daniel Mann (no relation) and Eitan Efrat alludes to both its atmosphere and title.
Focusing on underground locations such as quarries, tunnels and caves, the filmmakers investigate the insatiable human desire to extract natural resources from the ground. In three chapters, they explore the healing powers of radon gas found in Austria, the powerful energy felt in stones in Switzerland, and the pearls created by sweat and blood found in Polish caves, a memento of those who died there. Together, these chapters form a geological and cultural history of our (often bodily) relation to the subsoil of the Earth, enabling different modes of knowing and experiencing the world. Like Castorp, the viewer is hence placed in a different reality, and invited to take "the ride into the mountains to be healed".