BAFTA-nominated director, Jennifer Peedom, follows up her film about an angry mob fighting on Everest called ‘Sherpa’ with ‘Mountain’ which keeps us looking in a more positive direction. This film starts impressively with the Australian Chamber Orchestra setting up in front of a screen that begins to play the film. They play along with the movie. It’s synched perfectly which is such a good way to prepare you for the beauty you’re about to witness. Surprisingly, not only does the Orchestra lead you into the story but it stays there the entire time, caressing your ears with breathtaking notes while the screen cradles your eyes visually. Now, one cannot exist without the other; it’s mystifying how well the two go hand in hand.
These mountains do put those who climb them into precarious situations at times but how each circumstance is captured is shocking and or awe-inspiring. One might think the people who are drawn to reach the summit of a mountain mad for not feeling at home at or near the base but it’s not for us to decide who and what is in the hearts of others. The film, with Willem Dafoe as narrator, explores why people are driven to new heights and when it all began. It makes for an appealing subject whether you would have first thought so or not.
Mountains were once considered either hostile or holy there was no middle ground. That changed as people got more familiar with them and more daring. Though people created new ways to soar they never gave up on the introspection and high they achieved when tackling some of their deepest fears… ocean depths, outer space and mountains. One by one the mountains were conquered and some, sadly, turned into tourist traps, for a limited base. Here, you’ll see it all happen along with eye-opening before and after photos of mountains being cleared for play. However, nothing is more surprising to see than the downfall of Everest, the king of all. What I mean by downfall is that of its mystery and of its allure. You’ll see footage of what goes on there, especially at night, and it’ll leave you to wonder if there’s anything left in this world to pursue or since it has been reached, will man ever be satisfied and leave nature be?
The narration is deep and profound, informing as it entertains. It asks what is the ‘siren song of the summit’ that moves us upward? We’re told that fascination replaced fear and skyward we climbed. This abundant planet that we call home offers delights that some feel necessary to explore while others want only to protect it from harm.
From the filmmaker’s curiosity comes this enchanting and gripping footage which stretches beyond the expectations of any documentary of its kind. Aching fingers, soaring bodies, bikes riding trails where bikes should not be, men sleeping where there is no air; it’s exceptional to witness and you get to watch it all without packing your bags.
If you go see this you will not be let down… you’ll only be propelled up. Please, do yourself a favor when watching. You must be seen on the big screen. Watching at home would not do it the justice it deserves.
See this in Phoenix at *Harkins Shea 14