Thursday, August 19, 2010

North Face

After watching my second mountain climbing flick in six months, I’m beginning to think that the big screen is no place for flicks about mountain climbing. With Touching the Void, I thought that film was unable to capture the thrill of the climb (I also thought it failed to convey elements of its intriguing survival tale). Now, with North Face, a German expert about a 1936 expedition, it seems as though the filmmakers may agree with me, as they have thrown in more conventional story elements such as a romance and a villain and a politicized plot, all to no avail. It tells the story of two German infantrymen who are expert climbers in their spare time. When the girlfriend/aspiring photo journalist of one of the men informs them that the German government wants someone to climb the unclimbed and extremely dangerous North Face of the Eiger Mountains to instill German pride in the days before the Berlin Olympics, the men seize the challenge (although one is reluctant). They meet up at the mountain with another team and ascend the harrowing mountain, while the girlfriend and her pugnacious boss report from the mountainous resort. The characters are cliché and underdeveloped and there is too much subplot thrown in. Although the film contains beautiful cinematography and this true story does not turn out as one would expect (or maybe it does), the other elements of the film do not come together, and we find ourselves having a hard time caring about the men that took part in this perilous mission.