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.
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