North Face (film)
North Face Directed by Philipp Stölzl Produced by Boris Schönfelder
Written by Christoph Silber, Rupert Henning, Johannes Naber, Phillip Stölzl Starring Benno Fürmann
Music by Christian Kolonovits Cinematography Kolja Brandt Editing by Sven Buddelmann Running time 121 minutes Country Germany, Austria, Switzerland Language German
The movie portrays an attempt in 1936 to summit the Eiger via the north face by two competing climbing teams. The more prominently featured pair of German climbers are Toni Kurz (Fürmann) and Andi Hinterstoisser (Lukas) from Berchtesgaden. (Berchtesgaden is now widely known as the location of Hitler's home throughout that decade.) They have got leave from the German army in order to make their attempt, falsely claiming one of them is getting married and the other is to be Best Man. They are portrayed as being more interested in mountaineering than in the current politics of the time. The competing team of Austrians who eventually team up with the German team are portrayed as hoping for a Nazi-led incorporation of Austria into Germany. A major subplot involves a principled young newspaper employee (and hometown friend of the German climbers; Wokalek) whose career the climbing story could launch, and her cynical superior (Tukur).
After a successful theatrical run in Germany, Switzerland and Austria, the film was released in several non-German speaking countries including the United States, United Kingdom, Italy and Japan from 2009-2010, receiving favorable reviews throughout. North Face won the German Film Award for Best Cinematography and Best Sound and the German Film Critics Award for Best Screenplay and Best Cinematography.
Historical elements of the plot
- German government publicity did draw attention to German and Austrian mountaineering, and to climbing the North Face in particular, as matters of German national and ethnic pride.
- The names and nationalities of the members of the historical single team of four who set out to attempt the ascent together correspond to those of the members of the two fictional teams.
- Like the fictional Andi and Toni, the historical Andreas Hinterstoisser and Toni Kurz did have a shared association with Berchtesgaden, having, two years before their deaths, established a route together on the Berchtesgadener Hochthron.
- The route of the historical team is essentially as portrayed in the film.
- The rope that Hinterstoisser placed on the Hinterstoisser Traverse, and was used by the others to cross, was removed before the last team member continued upward.
- When recovered, the corpse of one of the Austrian climbers showed he had been bandaged for a head wound.
- During the descent Andi did attempt to cross the area known as Hinterstoisser Traverse using the pendulum traverse, as he had the ascent, and gave up when he realised his efforts were futile. (Even though the scene in the movie is short, Andi tried for hours but to no avail)
- A rope supporting two climbers was cut
- to move forward with the attempt at rescue (rather than in crisis of the next seconds or few minutes),
- below the climber doing the cutting (rather by one of climbers dropping as a result),
- on instructions from the rescuers, and
- after the two appeared beyond communicating or helping in their own rescue.
- After the avalanche, Kurz:
- was the only team member with hope for survival,
- had lost a glove and found the corresponding arm stiff and useless,
- communicated with would-be rescuers at the tunnel "window",
- unravelled a rope using teeth and one hand over the course of five hours, producing a longer cord which he lowered so an additional rope could be tied to it and sent up for the rest of his descent,
- was trapped, unable to lower himself further toward the rescuers, when he was unable to pass through a carabiner the knot that he had tied to join the longer rope and the rope that was supporting him, and
- announced to the rescuers his own demise.
- All four died in the attempt.
- Anschluss between Germany and Austria had substantial public support in Austria, and was effected in 1938.
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