Centuries ago, mountains were regarded as sacred giants, home to gods and monsters. They were not to be disturbed and if they were, the only outcome was swift annihilation. Now, however, mountains have become conquerable and the once impossibility of reaching their summits and peaks has become achievable.
Mountain is a documentary that reveals the exquisite beauty of these earth-made titans while exploring our relationship to them. Footage of various mountaineers and athletes are featured, but their names and what they are doing is unidentified. The locations of the mountains are also not known and that’s the point. It’s the physical awe of nature and human conviction that is meant to be explored in this film. We are only left to marvel at the wild landscape that only a few people have vanquished.
The cinematography in this film might be some of the most outstanding ever recorded in recent years. Aerial shots of a climb can start with a slow zoom of a dusty rock behemoth and a human dot attempting to scale it. We are then introduced to a climber without the assistance of any devices, just his hands and sometimes a rope. Fear is now fuelled adrenaline and often times, human arrogance.
While most documentaries have a bunch of talking heads trying to find the “human meaning” in a story, Mountain’s dialogue is sparingly used. Instead, we have a narration from Willem Dafoe talking about our fascination and obsession with mountains while personifying them. He also touches on a more sombre note, saying scaling a mountain has become an “industry of ascent,” rather than true exploration.
The score of this film is sublime, much like the mountains themselves. We have the Australian Chamber Orchestra to thank for that. Even though thousands of hours of footage must have been shot, no scene looks or sounds like it doesn’t belong.
Anyone remotely fascinated with mountains needs to see this film.
Fri., Jan. 19– Thu., Jan. 25