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North Face

Nationalism meets an icy mountain in this period drama

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In 1936, top European mountain-climbers vied to complete the last challenge in the Alps, ascending the sheer and icy North Face of Eiger. Philipp Stoelzl's adventure drama, based on real events, tracks two young Germans in their quest; they climb for fun, but the tenor of the times means their conquest is virtually mandated for the glory of the Third Reich. The alpine scenery is gorgeous and the quest lighthearted -- until the mountain becomes a death trap. Indeed, the climbing scenes are harrowing (particularly with a unique score that mimics the ice axe hitting pitons), but Stoelzl also works in a shimmer of a romance, as well as critique of the prevailing nationalism. A must-see for armchair mountaineers. In German, with subtitles. Starts Sat., April 24. Harris

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