“Mountain” directed by Jennifer Peedom (2017)
‘Those who dance are considered mad by those who can’t hear the music’
‘Mountain’ begins by presenting us with the vocabulary which is often used to discuss mountain culture. 300 years ago imagery anywhere between the holy and the hostile was commonplace and still infuses modern mountain narratives. The duality of this vision is explored throughout the film through the direction of Jennifer Peedom, the cinematography of Renan Ozturk, the words of Robert MacFarlane and the music arranged by Richard Tognetti.
Images, music and words are precisely selected by this team to invoke this sense of wonder and fear, reverence and adventure, dream and nightmare which exist side by side throughout the film. Mountains are frequently perceived as ‘magic’, possessing an ‘allure’ which is ‘spellbinding’ to some and madness or lunacy to others.
This cinematic essay touches on all aspects of mountain culture; history, geology, geography, cartography and religion, without being daunted by the scope of its ambitions. The documentary examines phenomena such as risk management, Everest fever and extreme sports such as skiing, climbing, snowboarding, flying suits, hang gliding and cycling to present an appraisal of the latest mountain sports. We are reminded of the extreme risks taken by some of these athletes in the race for online views, aimed at drawing our attention to both athletes and sponsors.
All in all this is a superbly curated and thought provoking piece which will appeal to outdoor people from many backgrounds.
“Touching the Void” directed by Kevin MacDonald (2003)
Touching the Void is based on a 1988 book by Joe Simpson, describing his eventful climb of the 6,344-metre (20,813 foot) Siula Grande in the Peruvian Andes with Simon Yates in 1985. The book went on to win the 1989 Boardman Tasker Prize for Mountain Literature.
The film features Brendan Mackey as Joe Simpson, Nicholas Aaron as Simon Yates, and Ollie Ryall as Richard Hawking, and combines dramatisations of the climb with interviews with Yates, Simpson and Hawking. Joe Simpson and Simon Yates acted as consultants for the film, and appear as their younger selves for the long distance shots of Siula Grande in Peru.
After a two day walk in from civilisation, they begin an arduous climb up the west face of Siula Grande. Although they successfully summited the mountain, problems began during their descent when they were beset with storms and white out conditions. A serious injury leaves Simon Yates with the ultimate dilemma of whether to remain in a situation in which he and his climbing partner would both perish or take a decision to save himself.
The story is accurately recreated with technical precision and superb cinematography which showcase the stunning locations in the Andes and the Alps together with the mountain skills of Mackey and Aaron in the lead parts. Very compelling.
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