North Face (Nordwand) (2010)



Critic Consensus: A tense and gripping spectacular piece of snow-bound historical German film-making.

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Based on a true story, about a competition to climb the most dangerous rock face in the Alps. In 1936, Nazi propaganda urges German Alpinists to conquer the unclimbed north face of the Swiss massif, the Eiger, bringing two reluctant climbers, Toni Kurz and Andi Hinterstoisser, to begin their daring ascent and attempt to scale the infamous rock face, often called the Murder Wall. While preparing themselves at the foot of the North Face, Toni and Andi unexpectedly run into Luise, the early love of Toni. Now a journalist, she has come with her boss Arau, a loyal Nazi, to report about the first ascent. Toni begins the ascent of the North Face with Andi, closely followed by two Austrians Willy Angerer and Edi Rainer. All goes well at first as both rope teams make good headway but then the climbers lose their advantage over the mountain and the race against time and the forces of nature begins.
Action & Adventure , Drama
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Benno Fürmann
as Toni Kurz
Florian Lukas
as Andi Hinterstoisser
Johanna Wokalek
as Luise Fellner
Georg Friedrich
as Edi Rainer
Simon Schwarz
as Willy Angerer
Ulrich Tukur
as Henry Arau
Erwin Steinhauer
as Emil Landauer
Petra Morzé
as Elisabeth Landauer
Hanspeter Müller-Drossaart
as Hans Schlunegger
Branko Samarovski
as Albert von Allmen
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Critic Reviews for North Face (Nordwand)

All Critics (55) | Top Critics (19)

The mountaineers climb for reasons that have little to do with nationalism - reasons the film clumsily attempts to articulate in words. It's far more successful conveying those inspirations with stunning images of them scaling daunting heights.

Full Review… | July 4, 2010
Top Critic

A straightforward, wickedly suspenseful Man vs. Nature saga of the type that rarely gets made any more.

Full Review… | April 16, 2010
Houston Chronicle
Top Critic

Philipp Stolzl worked in the same dangerous conditions as the original climbers, and we can feel the chill and peril in our bones. It's a shame, then, that the screenwriter, unlike the camera crew and the characters, was afflicted with such timidity.

March 25, 2010
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Top Critic

North Face" is something of an old-fashioned epic shot with modern wisdom and technique, a man vs. nature flick that also weighs the importance of the individual vs. the social while exposing the mean cost of vicarious thrills.

Full Review… | March 12, 2010
Detroit News
Top Critic

The word "gripping" doesn't do it justice.

Full Review… | February 25, 2010
Washington Post
Top Critic

This white-knuckle adventure is a literal and metaphoric cliff-hanger that gets a spectacular foothold on an unforgiving mountain.

Full Review… | February 25, 2010
Philadelphia Inquirer
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for North Face (Nordwand)

Luise: When you're at the bottom - Toni once told me - at the foot of the wall, and you look up, you ask yourself: How can anyone climb that? Why would anyone even want to? But hours later when you're at the top looking down, you've forgotten everything. Except the one person you promised you would come back to.  North Face is a mountain climbing film that tries to be a lot more than that. Overall it is a good movie, but I can't help but feel that it could have and should have been a whole lot better. I'm not saying it is bad, but I think the director, Philipp Stolzl, tries to do a little too much; when if he would have just stocked to the basics it could have been a lot more exciting on the ascension and much more suspenseful on the descension.  North Face is the story of two young Germans who are attempting to be the first to climb North Face. They are racing two Austrians to the top, as many reporters and spectators gather at a hotel to watch and take part in history. Among the reporters is a woman, who knows the two Germans and loves one of them, that being Toni. She is excited to see them be the first to make it and never really shows any concern about them attempting it. Where the movie goes wrong in my opinion is that it can't just stick with the climbers. It cuts from the mountain to the hotel every five minutes. The action is up on the mountain with the climbers, not down on the ground with people who are just sitting and talking. Also I don't think the love interest really added that much to the movie, except just to add another plot detail. Before the climb, I didn't really see the love being all that strong between the two characters. I'd have liked it a lot more had they cut out a lot of the scenes down below and added a lot more to the actual mountain climbing scenes. The scenes that take place on the mountain are tremendous. The scenery is beautiful at times and scary at times.  While I don't feel like the movie was completely ruined, I was just kind of put off by some of the plot decisions. I enjoyed the experience though, as it was times an exciting, suspenseful and ultimately sad story.

Melvin White
Melvin White

Super Reviewer

By 1936, climbing the north face of the Eiger proved a formindable challenge that no climber could resist while at the same time proving equally deadly. Sensing a great possibility for propaganda, the Nazis are offering to honor anybody who reaches the summit at the upcoming Olympics in Berlin, giving them a front row seat to see Jesse Owens disprove the Nazis' racist theories.(Sorry, getting ahead of myself there.) If they don't find anyone, then Berlin newspaper editor Henry Arau(Ulrich Tukur) is told he will be next. Luise Fellner(Johanna Wokalek) saves him from a possibly excruciating death by speaking up at an editorial meeting, suggesting Andi Hinterstoisser(Florian Lukas) and Toni Kurz(Benno Furmann), two old climbing friends from Bavaria, leading to her being promoted from secretary to reporter. However, Toni questions the sanity of the whole thing, leading Arau to look elsewhere, namely Austria, for Edi Rainer(Georg Friedrich) and Willy Angerer(Simon Schwarz). At least, he says, they are Party members. Seeing as how Andi is committed to the climb, Toni is back in, as the friends bike 700 kilometers to Switzerland and destiny. Based on a true story, "North Face" is a very suspenseful movie that milks the story for all it is worth. In fact, it might have been unbearably so if it had not split the time with the observers at nearby Jungfraujoch, making this not only unique for a climb, but also making excellent use of the constrast between the splendor of the spectators and the climbers in the tent city and on the mountain. Along the same lines, the movie also smartly explores the exploitation of heroes by the Nazis, as they intend to do the same with the climbers. Nationalism does not even creep into the thoughts of Toni and Andi. Like all climbers, they are in it for the challenge and to go where no one has been before. And it is odd to think of them as national heroes when we first see them cleaning toilets in the army. Luise gets a similarly humble introduction, in contrast to the part she will play later in the proceedings.

Walter M.
Walter M.

Super Reviewer

A cinematographically-breathtaking, visually-stunning, and heart-gripping survival thriller that succeeds in every technical level, NORTH FACE immerses us into the world of old-school mountaineering as it suspends us on a treacherous mountain cliff as we the audience experience snowstorms and avalanches and sweat and freeze as the characters do on-screen. It is a powerful adventure drama that deftly captures the stubbornness and pride of the characters' competitive spirit just as well as it does the tragic despair that befalls them when they realize their impending doom - a film that excels in spite of a shallow love story that stems from the film's weakest character, a female journalist whose role is rather irrelevant given the more epic scale of the mountain-climbing battle with nature.

Sheldon Chau
Sheldon Chau

Super Reviewer

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