Friday, October 4, 2013

The Summit (2013)

A jumbled narrative tells, mostly, the story of what happened in August 2008 when a group of climbers went up K2, the second highest mountain an possibly the world's most dangerous, and 11 of them were killed. Focusing (kind of) the mystery of what happened to GerMcDonnell, the first Irish climber ever to summit the mountain, the film seeks to unravel what exactly happened on the mountain over a 72 hour period.

Let me state at the start that the film is gripping and entertaining. Its a film that will hold your attention as you wait to see what is going to happen next.The film is definitely worth seeing...

..However the film has a series problem with the way it was put together and while I enjoyed the film I walked out of it more confused about what happened then when I went in (I had read several things about the incident over the last couple of years).

The major  problem with the film is it tells it's story out of order. Starting with bits of the tale once things had started to go wrong, the film then jumps back and forth through time showing us bits of events at one point then jumping backward to play through the events. It takes a good long while before you know what is what and who is who (a matter complicated because some events are recreated with actors). There is no context to anything we are simply thrown onto the mountain. We are also told the story of one of the Italian climbers on the the first successful trip to summit the mountain in 1954. Why exactly we're told the story is beyond me since it's never made clear what it's doing in the film.

Its clear that the director knows his material, unfortunately he was too close to the finished product to be able to fully explain what happened to a mass audience- or even to pick a point of view. What I mean by this is that the film is about Ger, except when it's not, or until it serves his purpose to go back to him. We're also not told everything. We aren't told that the reason some of the Sherpa go back up the mountain to rescue trapped Korean climbers is that they are related to one of the people trapped. We do get enough to follow what is happening but even in the end much is never explained, a fact that is revealed by reading the press notes which devotes three pages to explaining in chronological order. The clarity and detail in the brief recounting is severely lacking in the finished film.

Ultimately its only a partial recounting of events-even those the film is supposed to be focused on.

Is it a bad film?

No. Its a good film that should have been great.

To be perfectly honest even given my reservations you may want to see this on the big screen. The mix of real footage from the event mixed with photos and recreations look incredible on the big screen.  There is something about seeing a shadow stretch to China on a big screen that will take your breath away.

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