1 Nordwand-Stölzl


On a mission to find films that would appeal to younger viewers, prefererably with no swearing, sex or violence, Nordwand or North Face directed by Philipp Stölzl seemed like a no-brainer and so it turned out.  However bad the climbing film, if it's realistically filmed with plenty of vertical views and dangerous moments it is going to be gripping. And there's always that poignant moment when the climbers find the frozen bodies of their predecessors-this film doesn't disappoint on that score.

Toni Kurz and Andi Hinterstoisser, the main protagonists, two enthusiastic young climbers from Munich are among those for whom the north face of the Eiger is a tantalising challenge.  Luise, the love interest, Luise, who knows the two men from childhood encourages the two to tackle the killer mountain at the behest of her newspaper boss.

The enterprising duo resign from the army and bike off to Switzerland, settling themselves in a tent at the foot of the mountain.   Herein lies the challenge, as onlookers are gathering to see which team of climbers will succeed in conquering the mountain in the same year as the Olympic games are due to be held in Berlin (1936).


Toni and Andi prepare for their climb by establishing a new route and setting up a base camp with their bivouac material before setting off to  make the actual ascent.   Unfortunately, an Austrian, Nazi backed, team joins up with them and when one of these is badly injured in a stone fall, everything descends into chaos.  At the same time Luise and her boss who have come to record the triumph of one of the teams have acquainted themselves with the funicular railway which goes up the inside of the mountain to emerge in the middle of the north face (with viewing gallery with 1000 metre vertical drop).  This will play apart in an attempted rescue later on.

The, now four, climbers endeavour to get back down, not easy when trying to transport someone who is now incapable of movement.   At this point, for some reason, I thought that Andi and Toni would still be managing to go back up and conquer the mountain but it was not to be and despite an attempted rescue where the intrepid Luise excels herself, things go from bad to worse and the film replicates an actual photo of Toni hanging from his rope after expiring from cold and exhaustion.

The ironic thing is that two years later the North Face is conquered using the route established by Toni and Andi.  Nevertheless, we see Luise make good and the film is framed through her friendship with the climbers and the photo record which she inherited from her friend.


From the language point of view there is plenty to exploit in this film.   There are lots of possibilities for students to give their reactions-suppositions, fears etc Relationships are important within the film as are landscapes and weather so quite a lot of language work could be based around the film. 

I guess an interesting perspective might be to watch the film and then look at planning a holiday there, finding out how to get there, hotel details and excursion up the funicular etc.   It would give an added frisson to the learning experience

For those wishing to provide a context for Controlled Assessment this would be a worthy film to use.

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