Cine File is a random reference guide exploring the vast catalogue of films available on Netflix instant viewing, with special emphasis on the interesting, the unusual, and the ones that got left behind. Here are two vastly different films that explore the adventure of the outdoors – 180° South and North Face.
180° South (2010) is a documentary about an adventure seeker who surfs and sails his way down to South America to climb a Patagonian mountain. His goal is to retrace the steps of a previous adventurer, his hero Yvon Chouinard who made the journey in 1968 and later founded the hugely successful outdoor company Patagonia. 180° South uses some archival super 8 footage of that initial trip, which provides both inspiration for our narrator and shows how much the environment has changed in so little time. 180° South isn’t perfect — at times it feels like a secret advertisement for Chouinard’s company, and the narrator’s voice-over is rarely interesting. However, the astounding outdoor visuals transcend the film’s occasional shortcomings. 180° South is atypical family entertainment, revealing to us the beauty of the outdoors while promoting the need to protect it.
North Face (2008) is actually not about Patagonia’s rival company. This is a historical drama about two German climbers who risked their lives in 1936 to climb the deadly north face of Eiger Mountain in the Swiss Alps. At the time, no one had lived to climb to the top and the first to do so would be awarded an Olympic medal. North Face makes the obvious but necessary gesture of distancing the climbers from Hitler and the Nazi agenda to focus on the story, which is the sheer adrenalin and terror of climbing. It’s possible the cinematographer used some clever visual tricks, but the film appears to take place on the actual mountain in the blinding snow, which works to completely immerse the viewer into the story. This is a
German-made film without a complicated plot or typical American ending. The appeal isn’t in the dialogue, but in the moments when there is no talking and the only action is trying to make it to the top. In that sense, this is a very rare film. Together, these films show the dynamic relationship between man and nature, in both simple and dynamic terms.