North Face is a drama based on real events prior to the 1936 Berlin Olympics. Two renowned mountain climbers, Andreas Hinterstoisser and Toni Kurz, are reluctantly spurred into tackling the Eiger, “the last great problem of the Alps”. It is assured that their successful ascension to the summit prior to the Berlin Olympics will bring them fame as Germany seeks out more and more examples of Aryan superiority to justify their Nationalist obsessions.
n the ensuing battle of man vs. nature, things quickly go horribly awry as all manner of natural disasters beset the duo. Things quickly go from bad to worse to horrific for our heroes who are further hindered by two Austrians, Willy Angerer and Edi Rainer, trying to ride the coattails of Andi and Toni on their way to fame as icons of the Fatherland.
As the team of mountaineers experience several near death situations, the encounters with the frozen remains of previous climbers only punctuates the seriousness of this endeavor. The overall experience is enhanced by the amount of dramatic imagery as blizzards mercilessly buffet mountains towering over the Bavarian landscape. The sensation of isolation is highlighted by winds howling as loudly as jet engines through the mountain range. The violence of Mother Nature is evident in avalanches and rock falls. At several points in the movie it is hard not to find yourself feeling a little vertigo from the dizzying heights accentuated by excellent camera work. One can easily empathize with the characters as they freeze, starve, and struggle to the point of exhaustion n their efforts.
In addition to the dramatic environment of the story, the plot is further deepened by the near-obligatory love interest, Luise, who along with the people of the village below, witness much of the drama unfolding via telescopes and binoculars. Luise’s role as the reporter who instigated the whole expedition brings her into a stressing proximity to the situation as the story unfolds.
RATING: 4 out of 5 stars.
Pro: Interesting historical background of pre-WWII German society and their collective obsession with Nationalism. The visual quality of the movie is haunting in an existential manner. Lots of tension and drama from the dangerous battle against the elements makes for a compelling story. Several moral dilemmas in the story ask the viewer to think beyond himself, and about how she/he would react in the same situation.
Con: This is a bit of a dark and depressing movie. You will not find your “Hollywood” ending where everything works out in the end.