MERU is the story of Conrad Anker, Renan Ozturk and Jimmy Chin,who directed the film, and their two attempts at climbing the Himalayan peak known as Meru. The peak is a sheer rock face that looks like a shark’s tooth sticking straight up out if the ground. The mountain had never been climbed owning to the fact that the peak requires you to be proficient in every style of climbing. Additionally its so challenging that you can’t have guides or help to carry your equipment, the climbers themselves have to carry the weeks’ worth of supplies.
A visually spectacular film score many many points thanks to the film being almost entirely shot on location footage by the climbers during their two ascents of the peak. Chin is a well-known action camera man and this is put to good use putting you in the tick of the climb. It has to be stated that that there are no recreations, what you see is what happened. We see what they saw and its often breathtaking. Especially amazing is the long distance time lapse shots of the men climbing that compresses hours of climbing into seconds. It’s a jaw dropper and makes the film a must se on the big screen since the enormity of the mountain and the tininess of the climbers may be lost on smaller TVs.
Unfortunately the film has a huge problem that almost derails the film, the presentation of the film leaves a great deal out. I assume that if you are climber you’ll know what they are talking about but if you aren’t you may be lost. What I’m talking about is that we don’t know who the climbers are. I knew of Anker because of the other climbs he did but I had no idea about his partners, and to be honest after seeing the film I still really don’t know much about them. The film doesn’t really explain the mountain much or what it takes to climb it. It would have been so great if they had provided gone into a bit of detail on the history of the mountain and the different styles of climbing needed to summit it. Once the climbs happen we don’t really know where they are. There is no effort to put what we are seeing in the context of the overall climb. What are we seeing? Where are they? No clue.
This isn’t to say that I hate the film, I don’t. I’m frustrated by it because here is a fantastic story with truly awesome images and what should be a deeply moving story and great film is knocked down to being just good by a weak organization and not explaining enough.
For climbers this is a must however you see it. For all others this is must on a big screen and a suggestion for TV