Thoughts on North Face


Awhile back I posted a story about a promising looking climbing film called North Face, and that it was about to get a release in the U.S. It turns out it was a fairly limited release, and while I waited and watched for it to come to my local theater, it never arrived. Now, I live in Austin, TX, which has quite a reputation as a “movie town”. Heck, SXSW is starting this week, and literally dozens of films will be debuting there, so you can imagine my disappointment when the movie wasn’t scheduled to play here.

Enter, REI. Yes, the gear store. Thankfully, they picked up the film and have been showing it off in some of their stores. When I saw it show up on my event calendar for March, I immediately made reservations, and planned to catch it. Last night, that finally happened, and I can tell you it was worth the wait.

The movie tells the tale of two German climbers, Toni Kurz and Andi Hinterstoisser (Played by Benno Furmann and Florian Lukas), who set out to challenge the Eiger back in 1936. At that time, climbing was quite the obsession in Europe, with newspaper stories written about mountaineers and their daring deeds. It was also a matter of national pride for climbers from a specific country to make a first ascent, something that would spur Kurz and Hinterstoisser on, as they made their attempt on the “Europe’s last great problem” in the name of the Fuhrer.

The film is beautifully shot, with both the landscapes and the action coming across very realistically. This is a movie that captures the essence of climbing, and the men who love it so. It is also historically accurate, and there were a number of times that I was struck by how primitive Kurz and Hinterstoisser’s gear was while I watched them climb. Everything from the clothes they wore, the packs they used, and even the pitons they pounded into the rock were painstakingly recreated, and it gives the film a level of realism that isn’t always found in these kinds of movies.

Those who know the tales of the Eiger no doubt know this tale too. I won’t spoil it for those that don’t, but it plays out on the screen very well, It is gripping to watch, and even while sitting in an REI store, I was riveted to the screen, watching the events play out. The characters are extremely well developed, the acting is superb, and, everything comes together on multiple levels. This isn’t Cliffhanger. This is a different kind of climbing film, and fans of the sport will enjoy it greatly. Historians of the sport will likely fall in love with it.

In case you couldn’t tell, I loved the film, and recommend it very highly. If you get the chance, you must see it. I’m not sure when it comes out on DVD, but I’ll definitely be looking to add it to my collection. And I can’t give a film a higher rating than that. Really great stuff.

7 thoughts on “Thoughts on <i>North Face</i>”

  1. I agree… The North Face movie was excellent. I hope that Hollywood takes notice and tries to emulate it.

    Gary

  2. Hi Kraig & Gary,
    I envy you guys. Dont know if it'll ever get released here in Singapore. And dont know how long should I have to wait for its DVD 🙁

    Hi Anonymous,
    It's inappropriate comment here I guess 😉 Anyways, as far as I know/heard, Phuket is much better and scenic than Pattaya. Pls check it out in other websites as well.

  3. I was actually a might disappointed. I saw a presentation of this climb by Joe Simpson (a documentary). The film actually "short changes" the actual courage and tenacity of those involved.

    While the photography of the climbing shots is excellent, the true grit of those involved is lost on the slope.

  4. Wonderful review, Kraig–thanks! I was really fortunate to see this on a semi-big-screen in Minneapolis, MN, and I thought it was amazing. Most professional movie reviewers seem upset by the intrusion of fictional elements (such as Luise, the Nazi politicking, etc), but none of that bothered me much. I was blown away by all things climbing. Ironicially, I now have no desire to climb a mountain!

  5. I can certainly understand how this movie would turn you off to climbing a mountain. But remember, our gear and equipment is light years better than the stuff they had.

    Besides, the men in the film spent more than three days on the Eiger, and these days Ueli Steck can climb it in under 3 hours! We've come a long way indeed! 🙂

  6. I have not seen this movie yet but I have heard from some friends that it was really a nice movie… I was long been planning to watch it but I got so busy and i totally forgot about it. I think I will find time this weekend for that movie.

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