Friday, Oct 14, 2016
Jimmy Chin and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhely
I have long admired climbers for their singleness of purpose and puzzling assessment of risk. Dwindling food reserves. Lack of oxygen. Numb toes. Incoming avalanche. Keep climbing!
Offering a first ascent, Mount Meru attracts climbers with an insatiable hunger to test their mettle. I was expecting to witness an arrogant expedition. What I saw instead was less a story about adversity and triumph than one about the relationships between climbers. Meru poignantly captures the subtleties of human interaction when partners experience the unfortunate – keeping in mind these folks court misfortune.
Jimmy Chin, one of the climbers, and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhely are the primary filmmakers but certainly not the only ones. All climbers wear cameras. And nearly all the footage shows the immediacy of danger, sometimes also showing catastrophe . . . the actual catastrophe. These people don’t reenact anything. The result is an exhilarating film that’s also a candid portrayal of a sport far more nuanced than its singleness of purpose suggests.