North Face (Review)

Nail-biting true story is so convincing you'll get chilled to the bone

Apr 2, 2010 at 2:06 pm

Writer/director Philipp Stolzl precariously filmed on the actual face of the Swiss massif, the Eiger North Face, to create a nail-biting Nazi-era historic drama so convincing that you'll get chilled to the bone like the mountain climbers on screen.

Stolzl tells the 1936 story of skilled German Alpinists Toni Kurz (Benno Furmann) and Andi Hinterstoisser (Florian Lukas), who attempted to be the first climbers to conquer “the last problem of the Western Alps” as a show of German determination. Toni's childhood sweetheart, Luise (Johanna Wokalek), works as a journalist when her fame-hungry boss, Arau (Ulrich Tukur), brings up the idea of creating a propaganda scoop for the Nazis if he can inspire climbers to compete for Eiger’s 1,800-meter summit.

Against his better instincts, Toni agrees to make the climb, but his worst fears are confirmed when the Austrian duo following their route up the mountain suffer an accident that brings the rival teams together. Luise invariably creates a love triangle between her demanding boss and Toni, even as Toni and Andi fight to descend Eiger with a wounded Austrian climber.

Cinematographer Kolja Brandt does an outstanding job of capturing the danger and beauty of the mountain referred to as the murder wall with a documentarian eye for detail. Like Touching the Void, North Face is one mountain-climbing film you will never forget. Grade: A-

Opens April 2. Check out theaters and show times, see more photos from the film and get theater details here.