Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Philipp Stölzl's gripping and gorgeous NORTH FACE opens via Music Box
While TrustMovies tends not to place films about mountain-climbing high on his list of favorites, the new German film NORTH FACE (Nordwand) directed by Philipp Stölzl (shown below) has changed that. For now, at least. This amazing movie -- jumping off from fact -- is all about the attempted conquest of the then unclimbed north face of the Eiger mountain in Switzerland.
The film begins as a woman turns the pages of a scrap-
book. We don't see her face, just the photos she uncovers, and then we're thrust back in time to a pair of smart and handsome young mountaineers Toni Kurz (Benno Fürmann, be-
low right) and Andi Hinter-
stoisser (Florian Lukas, below left). Soon we're deep in the delights of mountain ranges, greenery, rathskel-
lers, family scenes, newspa-
per offices, romance, charm, and humor. It's like taking a swell vacation -- except that we're here in the Third Reich, with heroes who are good little Nazis.
pher Kolja Brandt have accomplished something stupendous by making us part of the climb: the elements, the nearly flat sheet of rock and ice that is the mountain's face, the sheer effort of lifting the body up and up. No apologies to Avatar: This is the movie that put me in a place no other film has yet managed.
Ulrich Tukur (above, right, from Séraphine and The White Ribbon) and, in the role of the Kurz's enamorata, a most interesting actress named Johanna Wokalek (above, left, from The Baader Meinhof Complex). Much less beau-
tiful than most "movie stars," she lights up the screen in her own manner: via sheer intensity and commitment. You can easily under-
stand why a "looker" like Fürmann would find himself in her thrall.
Music Box Films, opens in New York City Friday, January 29, at the Beekman, Lincoln Plaza Cinemas and Landmark's Sunshine. Additional playdates -- theaters and cities -- can be found by clicking here then scrolling down.