Aptly enough for its subject matter, Mountain is a unique documentary that celebrates and explores humankind’s admiration and fascination with the highest peaks of our planet. Director Jennifer Peedom, who previously gave us the remarkable Sherpa in 2015, has teamed up this time with writer Robert MacFarlane, composer Richard Tognetti, and cinematographer Renan Ozturk to create a striking ensemble of visuals, music and words that spoke specifically to the passionate Earth-loving individual within me.
Mountain initially offers us a timely reminder that less than 300 years ago, climbing mountains would have been considered lunacy, let alone the belief in Gods and Monsters that ruled the tips that touch the heavens, but today how humanity feels about them and, indeed, how we approach them has changed dramatically. Gone are the days of believing they’re a distant world beyond our own, we now find ourselves in a place where we now consider we can conquer their peaks and discover their hidden secrets.
Peedom has gathered over 2,000 hours of footage of our mountains across the world, and from contributors, to create a quite extraordinary documentary that’s also breathtakingly beautiful. It manages to find a space that’s both subtle and effective which is tied together with scores of classical music performed by the Australian Chamber Orchestra, led by composer Tognetti, who weave in the likes of Vivaldi and Beethoven into what we’re seeing on the big screen. When you add in MacFarlene’s poetry of the peaks, expertly narrated and presented by the deep tones of Willem Dafoe, it’s easy to get swept away in the world of Mountain.
I also really appreciated the fleeting comment on commercialism in mountain climbing because, in some places, it’s not really a classic profession and it’s become more of a ‘queue’ to say you’ve done it. This was highlighted in the footage on both Everest and in resorts, which I think may have been somewhere in North America. Personally, I don’t believe I could go there and say I’ve truly achieved something majestic, but –even considering my feelings- it doesn’t take away from the genuine risk which is also shown throughout. When the camera peels back from pairs of lone climbers on a mountain side, you get the pure, unfiltered picture of how small we really are and how we’re always at the mercy of our surroundings.
From the serene to the insane, through the sublime and the sensational, Mountain takes you on a journey through the highest points of our world, shows us the addiction, the passion, the power, the visually stunning and it’s all an exquisite adventure, so full of awe and wonder it almost makes you want to immediately climb in and explore the wilderness for yourself.