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The North Face/ Nanga Parbat
Comparing two German films about historically significant climbing events
||The North Face/ Nanga Parbat
||Philipp Stölzl/Joseph Vilsmaier
|| (4.00 of 5)
|I figured I''d review these two films together, because I''m lazy and they''re
very similar when compared to ... say... Harry Potter.
Nordwand (Northface) is essentially a fictionalized version
of the White Spider epic 1936 Kurtz/Hinterstoisser attempt on the
Nanga Parbat is an enactment of Reinhold Messner''s
version of the 1970 first ascent of the Rupal Face; described in the film
as the largest cliff in the world.
Both films are German made, German language and predominantly
German cast. Being half-German, that struck a chord with me.
While Nordwand portrays the events quite dramatically - I found
the inclusion of a love interest and the spectators a good way to include
a non-climbing audience, to sympathise and gain perspective on how
little the average person understands what these guys are going through.
On the other hand, Nanga Parbat follows the events seemingly
accurately, although the motivations and conversations are all told
through Messner''''s eyes (even when he wasn''t around). It portrays the
other members of the team as jealous rivals; despite two climbers
making the second ascent (1 day after Messner disappeared)
Both films delve heavily into Climbers psyches and motivations -
Messner describes climbing to a potential financier "Why does an artist
The highlight Northface is a newspaper reporter holding up a
piton (handcast by Kurtz and Hinterstoisser!) saying "a man hangs his
whole life on this tiny pin?" - tragically at the climax, three people are
hanging on a tiny pin; one of them desperately bashing it back into the
Both films feature amazing footage and very realistic depictions of the
ascents - including great images of Reinhold Messner in fluro orange
60''s baggy pants!
Nanga Parbat is marred by heavy 70''s guitar music (often at
very inappropriate moments) while Northface can get too soppy
for it''s own good. And in each, the other climbers are depicted one-
imensionally, either as inferior or somehow "to blame" for the tragedies
But ultimately - both films are a great reminder of what climbing was like
when radios were the size of a microwave, climbers made their own gear
and rode bicycles across Europe to get to the crag!
|NORDWAND in my opinion was great! As a rock climber of over 30 years on the crags, it was exciting to see "old school" techniques and the "European" perspective of history. My wife is German, though not from a climbing community (Berlin has no true mountains) and watching the movie without subtitles is the best way to get the feel for the perspective! The "Ogre" (Eiger) has lots of ghosts! One thing not discussed are the "Heimat" and climbing films of Luis Trenker! Now that man was a filmographer and a climber when no one was doing the sort of things he has done!
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