Sunday, June 23, 2013

Jason goes to Docfest--Day 16

A.k.a. "The day after Closing Night," also a.k.a. "The first night of the bonus Santa Cruz weekend."

Anyway, I drove all the way down to Santa Cruz for just one movie, but it was a great one. THE SUMMIT is a breathtaking and tragic story of an expedition to K2. On a beautiful, clear day in August 2008, 18 climbers reached the summit of K2, arguably the toughest mountain in the world (routinely mentioned as slightly shorter, but way more treacherous than Everest.) Over the next 48 hours, 11 of them would die on the mountain. The adage that the descent is way more dangerous than the climb was never more true. And the thing is, in the thin air of the "Dead Zone" your thinking is confused, and it's difficult to remember and piece together everything that happened. A lot of it remains a mystery even to those who survived (and, of course, those who didn't don't get to tell their story.) The movie does a valiant job of trying to explicate everything that happened, in particular with the Irish climber Ger (this is an Irish production, and is very sympathetic to his family, especially when news reports come out about the "inexperienced" or "unprepared" climbers.) What it mostly boils down to is dumb luck--both for the victims and for the survivors. The one guy who comes off looking really bad is the leader of the Korean expedition. He also happens to be the one guy who refused to be interviewed for the movie. Now this could be damning, you could take it as "he's guilty and that's why he didn't want to be interviewed." Or this could be another example of how those who don't speak (or, like the victims, can't speak) end up with a story that shows them in a bad light. Either way, it's fascinating. And the movie as a whole is fascinating and beautiful, and mixes actual footage/pictures from the climb, reenactments of key incidents, and footage of the 1954 Italian team who first conquered K2 (including an interview with a surviving member of the team, although I believe he passed away a few years ago after the interview.)

Running Time: 98 minutes
My Total Minutes: 332,156

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