Mountain – Film Review by Frank L.
Director: Jennifer Peedom
Writers: Robert Macfarlane, Jennifer Peedom
Star: Willem Dafoe
Peedom co-wrote the words for this visual extravaganza with Robert Macfarlane which are narrated by Willem Dafoe. However, the words lie in third place behind firstly the breath-taking cinematography of the ascent and descent of vertiginous mountains and secondly the pulsating musical score of primarily classical music (by Richard Tognetti). It is difficult to categorise the film as “a documentary” as it encompasses some twenty-two unnamed mountains throughout the world. It is more of a visual hymn of praise to mountains and the human need to encompass their power.
The opening scenes of a climber clinging to a ninety-degree, smooth, rock face makes for a nerve-racking opening. There are many subsequent shots which highlight how fragile humans are in the face of the innate power of mountains. One false step and everything is lost. Given the film lasts a mere 74 minutes inevitably there is an extraordinary rapidity with which the scenes alter and they are cut and spliced deliberately to create unlikely juxtapositions. There is, in addition, used some old footage of mountaineering when to climb a mountain was something an adventurer undertook as a means of discovery. This sense of adventure and discovery stands in contrast to the scenes nowadays of tourist queues of holiday makers which assail Everest and the innumerable lifts hauling thousands of brightly clad skiers up mountains so that they can ski back down.
The narrative does not associate any particular image with a place so inevitably it all becomes a bit of an impressionistic blur after a while. It is gripping to watch with the music assisting but after you leave the cinema all that remains is a jumble of images and some vague symphonic sounds. The purpose of the film remains therefore an enigma.