There are still so many different things I see that I do not understand. Competitive eating contests would be one example. I like food as much as the next person but the idea of shoving and swallowing a bunch of food in one’s mouth in a short period of time makes no sense to me. In a circus I have seen some acts that make me sit there and wonder if that person really grew up wanting to swallow swords or chew up lightbulbs. When it comes to mountain climbing, the whole concept baffles me. I have no problem trekking up a mountain to a vantage point that looks out onto an extraordinary view; however, I want a trail that zigzags its way up where I can just walk and not have to use my arms to pull myself along. At the top I would like a little rest stop or cafe where I can sit out and gaze upon the breathtaking scenery. Even before the recent tragedy in Nepal, I never understood people who had the need to conquer Mt. Everest or any other high mountain peak. Hanging off the side of sheer rock covered in snow and ice, while dangling by a rope tied to a spike driven into granite does not sound like a fun time to me. Based on a true story, this adventure drama was absolutely riveting. Set in 1936 at a time where European countries were drawing sides, it was important to Germany that they be the first to conquer one of the most dangerous peaks in the Alps. Their hopes were dependent on the German climbers Toni Kurz and Andi Hinterstoisser, played by Benno Furman (Joyeux Noel, In Darkness) and Florian Lukas (The Grand Budapest Hotel, Good Bye Lenin). Though they were experienced climbers the two men knew this climb would be their most challenging since they would have to compete against several other climbing teams to reach the top first. This award winning film had several remarkable scenes of Mt. Eiger which means ogre in German. Most of the drama took place on the mountain; however, the secondary story being held in the mountain hotel where childhood friend Luise Fellner, played by Johanna Wokalek (Aimee & Jaguar, Pope Joan) worked as a photographer was a needed respite from the intensity of the story. I abhor cold weather, am not fond of tall heights, do not understand the motivation to do something so dangerous, but none of it mattered because I was frozen to my seat watching this incredible story. There was German, French and Italian languages used with English subtitles. There were a couple of scenes where blood was shown.
3 1/2 stars — DVD
Since we just had our first measurable snowfall, I recall how much fun I had building forts out of snow. The best kind of snow to use was one heavy with moisture; it would make a funny scrunching sound as it was being squeezed tight. Once the fort was completed, my friends and I would separate into two sides and start a snowball fight. Usually the winning team would get to destroy the opponent’s fort. There was never any hatred involved or wishing someone harm. If anything each of us would use our imaginations to come up with exotic or fanciful ways of winning. I claimed my snowballs were stun balls, causing anyone hit by one to be temporarily paralyzed until the end of the game. Coming across this Oscar nominated movie based on a true story, it really sent a clear message to me for this holiday season. It was December 24, 1914 and the most horrific war to date was raging in Europe. Converging together on the battlefield were fully armed German, French and Scottish troops. Every soldier was cold and weary while their respective commanders were looking for some weakness to exploit in defeating the enemy. However something happened when a stray cat wandered into the fray. I found this story to be a hopeful example of what can be achieved when people put aside their differences and become human again. Not only did I find the acting well done, I thought the casting of actors was exceptional. For example, Diane Kruger (National Treasure, Troy) lovely as Danish soprano Anna Sorensen; Benno Furmann (North Face, Curse of the Ring) as German officer Nicolaus Sprink and Ian Richardson (Dark City, Becoming Jane) as religious figure L’eveque. In the middle of a grotesque war to find an oasis of humanity, this film was a surprise treat. The bottom line for me has nothing to do with a person’s race, religion, sexuality or country; it simply is a matter of being a decent human being. This was an astonishing, inspiring story; I was grateful it had been turned into a movie. French, German, English, Latin with subtitles.
3 1/3 stars — DVD