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Based on a true story, North Face is a suspenseful adventure film about a competition to climb the most dangerous rock face in the Alps. Set in 1936, as Nazi propaganda urges the nation's Alpinists to conquer the unclimbed north face of the Swiss massif - the Eiger - two reluctant German climbers begin their daring ascent. Written by
As Luise Fellner and her boss, Herr Arau, arrive at the Eiger, the local guides are standing in front of the hotel advertising their services to the tourists. One of the guides notices a pair of climbers in the crowd. "Look who's coming," he says, "Bartolo Sandri and Mario Menti." A fellow guide mutters: "Another couple of fools. Come in a train and leave in a coffin." These two Italian climbers fell to their deaths from the north face June 21, 1938. See more »
At the beginning of the film, when Luisa watches the news in the cinema theater, the voice-over gets the first-names of the alpinists who died on the Eiger wrong. It says Max Mehringer and Karl Sedlmayr, but it's the opposite: KARL Mehringer and MAX Sedlmayr. This may have been intended to show the unreliability of the report. See more »
[in German, quoting English subtitles]
When you're at the bottom - Toni once told me - at the foot of the wall, and you look up, you ask yourself: How can anyone climb that? Why would anyone even want to? But hours later when you're at the top looking down, you've forgotten everything. Except the one person you promised you would come back to.
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This film reminded me of why I've never wanted to be a mountain climber
The cinematography here is brilliant. The film does a wonderful job in portraying the close-up atmosphere that's possible and lethal in some of these violent outdoor places. I think it's easily one of the best climbing-themed films out for this reason. Go and see the movie for breathtaking scenes.
I think it was let down (not much) by the way the climbing theme was tied to the sub-plots. A third of the film has no mountains in it at all, which is fine, but as long as it was going to branch into another kind of film, I think I would have enjoyed more character development. The Nazi theme is brushed over as background politics, with little attempt to show disturbing things were brewing. We barely learn anything about the attitudes of the people involved in the film. I guess this may have been fear of distracting from the film's main theme, but which I think could have made the entire story and characters stronger if it were done well and believably.
Some details of these sub-plots also directly interfered with the main climbing theme, and maybe believability. eg. The love story (presumably tacked on for interest) included Luise shouting into a storm and amazingly being heard. I found this very difficult to believe -- I've been in what I thought were similar storms at high altitude (not dangling from a cliff), and had trouble screaming and being heard by people a couple of metres in front of me. Since leaving I've also read conflicting stories about the ending sequence, and although there would clearly have to be much creative licence for much of this under the circumstances, I now also wonder how much even confirmed facts have been changed to romanticise the story more.
All of this is small nitpicking, though. If you want to see some awesome cinematography it's a brilliant mountain film which makes it one of my favourite films. It's also not such a bad story if you're less pedantic than myself.
9 of 15 people found this review helpful.
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