Music by: Richard Tognetti and the Australian Chamber Orchestra
Words by: Robert Macfarlane
Narration by: Willem Dafoe
Principal Cinematography by: Renan Ozturk
Sound design by: David White
Edited by: Christian Gazal and Scott Gray
Produced by: Jennifer Peedom and Jo-anne McGowan
Filmed in: Antarctica, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bolivia, Canada, Chile, France, Greenland, Iceland, India, Italy, Japan, Nepal, New Zealand, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Scotland, South Africa, Switzerland, Tibet, USA.
This is a film about mountains, from the need of humans to dominate, to the terrible beauty, destruction and indifference of creation: Mountain is a reminder of how small we truly are.
I experienced a rollercoaster of emotions from: a state of relaxation, my eyes drinking up the beauty of the slow evolution of story, the film opening on breathtaking panoramas of mountain peaks; to my heart pounding as I watched the madness of people leaping and skiing and bike riding and base jumping from awesome, vertigo inducing heights while the climber smiles as he hangs from the tips of his fingers, the expression both beautific and insane.
Sometimes it’s just so good to take humans out of the equation – yet, Mountain is about the fascination humans have of the serene, cold, majestic indifference of nature.
Living in a world of increasing, mad-made controlled comfort, some crave the risk that’s been taken from our everyday lives – to go seeking for that feeling of being alive because at any moment the earth may fall, the vertigo may win, the avalanche may swallow and the oxygen might run out.
How do you make a documentary about mountains?
How do you show the phenomenon of nature?
Mountain is a symphony of poetry, imagery and sound.
Richard Toretti, the artistic director of the Australian Chamber Orchestra collaborated with director, Jennifer Peedom to put together this memorable documentary.
And I use the word collaboration as Mountain is equally weighted between the senses with the soundtrack given as much weight as the words and cinematography. A concept called synaesthesia that fascinated Richard, where the stimulation of the sense leads to another becoming more acutely attuned.
The soundtrack consists mostly of classical, a point of difference as most of the adrenaline-fuelled high stakes mountain sports are usually backed by punk rock. Yet, the classical really highlights the majesty of the mountains.
And the combination of sound and stomach clenching cinematography creates a thrill as people fly down slopes or jump into the air 1000s of feet above the earth, death defying leaps, where there really must be an element of insanity, to even think, yet, it’s not about thinking, it’s about feeling alive.
Yet, there’s more to this film then just the stimulation of the senses.
Director, Jennifer Peedom who previously won world recognition after the release of the documentary, Sherpa (2015), also touches the idea of the change in the challenge of mountain climbing: the climb becoming a wait-in-line scenario rather than an adventure, where the real risk is taken by others like the Sherpas. Yet, the controlled destruction sometimes slips from mans’ grip.
Hence the fascination.
‘Danger can hold terrible joys,’ says narrator, Willem Dafoe, quoted from a book written by Robert Macfarlane.
This is a beautiful moment in the film, one of many, with skiers drifting through powdery snow, weaving between the pines to the sound of a Beethoven symphony.
The thread that binds the film is poetics from Robert’s book, ‘Mountain of the Mind’: an exploration into the concept of the sublime.
‘In the branch of philosophy know as aesthetics the sublime is a quality of almost overwhelming greatness and magnitude’.
And in this modern world it is just so refreshing to be reminded of this greatness of nature.
A wonderful escape and reminder that the earth breaths, Mountain is both inspiring and thought-provoking = Food for the soul.
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