Top positive review
74 people found this helpful
on 23 October 2007
As someone who gets dizzy if he wears an extra thick pair of socks I am awe of people who climb mountains . In fact I am in awe of people who can climb ladders, but they as a rule aren't at risk from frostbite , sudden changes in the weather , falling rocks , avalanches and the numerous and terrifying pitfalls that can befall mountain climbers at any given minute.
Nowhere is there more chance of this happening than on the north face of the Eiger. This mountain and more specifically the route up the north face has an irresistible pull for serious climbers and this film attempts to explain why while also giving a superb dramatic reconstruction of an attempt in 1936 that ended in tragedy. While the story itself is remarkable and ultimately very moving it's the eloquent commentary and thoughts of mountaineer Joe Simpson that give this film it's vital empirical heart. Joe Simpson from the film "Touching The Void" survived a near tragedy on a mountain in Peru which of course is what that film was about and so is an ideal person to give insights to what the climbers were thinking and how they would have reasoned and overcome the dilemmas presented to them.
In 1936 the north face of the Eiger had yet to be conquered, indeed the previous year two climbers had perished attempting the climb .Simpson visiting the mountain explains that the north face can be viewed from the town below and thus people with telescopes or binoculars can track the progress( or otherwise) of the climbers . This had happened in 1935 till during one of the storms that descend with rapid ferocity on the mountain face the two climbers disappeared from view . A year later a group of four talented and enthusiastic climbers led by Toni Kurz made an attempt of their own but an unfortunate accident and one decision made it must be said out of unawareness, resulted in their time on the mountain becoming a fight for survival. It's a tale of extraordinary courage , resolution and a sheer will to live . Who better to comment than Simpson ( Who admits he hasn't climbed for three years ,yet after spending some time on the north face for the purposes of the film admits he can feel the pull of the mountain resurfacing ) and his measured conversant tones give this film an even more piquant tone than the story itself would have provided which is saying something .
The DVD has extras to provide further insight and the film itself while being around a hundred times more involving and riveting than any Hollywood blockbuster is also stunning visually with some truly breath-taking shots of the Eiger and the surrounding mountains. This is that rare thing -a film that is both moving and educational ., a quite superb piece of film-making . If you're prone to vertigo it will make you feel dizzy once or twice and that's as near to replicating what these remarkable people do as I'm ever likely to get.