‘Meru’ ~ Directed by Jimmy Chin and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi
September 4 in Jacksonville at the Sun Ray Cinema.
I consider myself a fan of documentaries. Being a fan of movies in general, I can really appreciate the time, effort, and passion for a subject matter, that a director puts into a documentary. Plus, I always come away learning something new, which is never a bad thing.
On the surface, ‘Meru’ is a documentary about 3 men trying to scale one of, if not THE toughest mountains to climb. But at its core, the film is more about man’s inner struggle. The internal fight that every one of us has had at some point in life, and the sheer will to move forward. On that level, whether you’re a fan of mountain climbing or not, the film is very easy to connect with.
That personal struggle, married with an unbelievably beautiful backdrop, makes ‘Meru’ an easy film to watch and enjoy. There’s a ton of (potential) drama, but each obstacle is handled, on film, in a very matter-of-fact way. As much as you know climbing a mountain could be a life or death challenge, “frost bite” and ‘trench foot” (explained in the film) are just another day at the office for the team of men in ‘Meru’.
That team is led by Conrad Anker, quite possibly the #1 mountain climber in the world. Conrad’s mission in life is to be the first to scale the “Big Wall” of Mount Meru in the Himalayas. The peak of the Big Wall is known as “Shark’s Fin”, because it literally looks like a shark’s fin swimming thru the sky. Anker is joined by his apprentice, Jimmy Chin. The two have been climbing together for 10 years. The third member of the team is a newcomer, Renan Ozturk, who’s not as experienced as Anker and Chin, but holds his own in the climb.
The film opens as the team makes their first attempt (yes, there’s more than one) at Mount Meru. After an unsuccessful climb, the real drama happens OFF the mountain. Both Chin and Ozturk have near death experiences while filming snowboarders on a different mountain. The film follows their recovery, and internal emotions about trying to climb Meru again. But ultimately their passion for climbing wins, and they set out to conquer Meru. Never wanting to be the guy who “poops” an ending, I’m gonna leave the story alone there.
I will reveal however, that ‘Meru’ is an absolutely beautiful film to watch. The magnitude of the mountain compared to the men climbing it, is then dwarfed by the size of the star filled sky behind it. It’s truly one of the most amazing sites ever put on film.
Let me know what you think of ‘MERU.’ on Twitter @AmadeusIsOnline. Read other reviews from Amadeus at theunofficialvoice.com/