Nordwand – North Face (2008)

north face

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One of the few historical movies that still has living witnesses and existing evidence as well as many documented accounts of the events, is retold in this light hearted and dramatically tragic masterpiece.

Toni Kurz (Benno Fürmann) and Andi Hinterstoisser (Florian Lukas), a team of Bavarian Climbers, make an attempt to scale the murder wall of the Eiger, along with a few other specialists in 1936 after pressure from the (nazi) German government and in the run up to the Olympics, they are out to do their personal best to climb the imposing Ogre (Eiger) and be the first men to do so. During their attempt they are re united with an old friend who’s now working as a photographer for a newspaper covering the biggest story in European sporting history.

Despite the hints dropped throughout about the nazi regime at work during the climb it’s made very clear that the climbers and their photographer buddy Luise Fellner (Johanna Wokalek) are quite detached from it, and I suppose it pays to stress this aspect of the story (let’s face it, we’d not have much sympathy for them otherwise).

The two men are determined, funny, and fit for this adventure, so much is against them though, the weather, their equipment and stories of two ill fated climbers who died on the Eiger shortly before their journey are still floating around, but like brothers the paid set off, cycle from Germany and are soon making plans on their climb. It’s around this point where you can see the dirty divide between the climbers and the bourgeois upper class, supping wine with no fucking clue what’s really at stake here, they “have no clue but this is terribly exciting” while they sit back and watch these men attempt the impossible, Luise, Tony’s old flame wants her friends back alive, her editor who as accompanied her to the event just wants a good story to drive up nationalistic pride.

The film starts out so hopeful and bright, characters are introduced and things start off so well, eventually the climb begins and the overshadowing presence of the Eiger literally takes shape and takes over the movie. There are the obvious rock tumbles and nail biting antics as you’d expect from a film set half way up a mountain. The well crafted soundtrack composed by Ulrich Tukur incorporates the clanking of hammers against pitons like a ambient industrial track from the 90’s. Things start to get colder and the lives of the two Germans is at stake along with their rival Austrians as they battle unforgiving Ogre.

A taut and chilling film, filled with a stark reality of death and a lifelong bond of love and brotherhood

The visuals will play on the mind as every opportunity is taken to show the audience just how isolated the climbers are, the dynamic acting and impressive make up and effects leaves nothing to the imagination as impending doom is around every turn. There is a haunting scene where the duo find the corpse of one of the previous climbers and have the duty of wrapping and dropping the corpse down the mountain and they stare longingly into the mist as his body disappears through the fog on its journey to down, these realities of fate are not comforting. The film is filled with historical accuracies and hopefully will lead some viewers to find out more about these brave and amazing characters.

Rating 9/10

Full review and other shenanigans to come..

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