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North Face Review

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1937. The attempt by two young Bavarians to conquer the Eiger becomes a life-threatening battle as the weather closes in...

★★★★

In 1937, as the Nazis talked war, two young Aryan climbers attempted the unconquered North Face of the Eiger, a near-vertical deathtrap. The Hitler-bent press were chasing glorification, but fate intervened, and what begins as a feel-the-scale climbing epic evolves into a disaster movie, shot with frostbitten verisimilitude by former ad-director Stölzl. While his film’s strengths are principally visceral, Stölzl, like many of the Oliver Hirschbiegel-led generation of new German directors, is also keen to emphasise the cruel ironies of his country’s dark history — that, beneath a philosophy prizing human endeavour over human life, the climbers’ doomed choices were a victory for compassion.

A well-crafted, visceral piece of historical filmmaking