North Face at the Harris

April 29, 2010

North Face, playing at the Harris Theater through May 6, is the story of an attempt by two young friends to climb Mt. Eiger’s North Face, the most dangerous portion of the Alps. The North Face poses certain dangers not present on the other faces of the mountain. Being vertical and almost perpetually in shadow, it is colder and icier than the other parts. It is also prone to falling rocks. The first attempt was made in 1934, but was not successful. The first group to get significantly high on the mountain was Max Sedlmayer and Karl Mehringer in 1935.  Their bodies were found a few weeks after they had started their ascent.  All told, over 50 people have died trying to climb Mt. Eiger’s North Face.

Eiger Eiger movie

In North Face, climbing the mountain is not just about the ambitions of two young men; it is about how other people attempt to profit off them. With the ascent’s taking place shortly before the Olympics, the Nazi Party is keen to tell the tale of German super-athletes climbing a heretofore-unconquerable mountain.  The climbers themselves have no interest in Nazi theatrics, but become central to a propaganda campaign. An old friend of the climbers, a young woman who wants to be a successful journalist, intends to profit off of telling their story, whether the story ended happily or not.

The movie is about an adventure, but also about personal ambitions getting co-opted by people who seek to profit off of others’ glory and/or demise.



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