North Face (12A)

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The Independent Culture

A mountaineering adventure more tense, more edge-of-the-seat suspenseful, than Touching the Void? Almost incredibly, this German drama, based on a true story, is that film.

Benno Fürmann and Florian Lukas play a pair of ace climbers who in July 1936, amid the rabble-rousing propaganda of the Nazis, attempt to scale the north face of the Eiger, otherwise known as the "murder wall". Johanna Wokalek touchingly plays the tyro photographer friend who hopes that the story of their climb might make her name. Writer-director Philipp Stölzl evokes a keen sense of period in setting up the story, but once it switches to the mountain face, with avalanches and bitter weather looming ominously, the film becomes as taut as a holding rope.