The Alpinist movie review by Will Gadd

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The Alpinist is the best rock climbing movie I have ever seen, and watching it is as close to the experience of top level alpine climbing as anyone without hearing the groan of falling rocks on a large face. It struck me on a personal level as well as a climber, dad and someone who knew the film’s very endearing and almost messianic main character Marc Andre Leclerc well enough to see and respect his sheer savagery.

People like Marc Andrew are forces of nature, wracking lifelike wolves. It is their nature. They really scare me, because truly wild and free animals don’t live long. I’ve lost so many wild friends that even though I watch them chew in life, I know the end. And this movie is the first one I’ve seen to really dig into the nature of what it means to live free and die wild. Director Peter Mortimer fortunately breaks the rule of the “objective journalist” when he recounts the film and begins with: “I was fascinated by these larger-than-life characters who push the limits of mountain adventure… Why the they do?”

I’ve lost so many wild friends that even watching them chew through life, I know the end. And this movie is the first one I’ve seen to really dig into the nature of what it means to live free and die wild.

See it and be inspired and amazed, but also prepare to come out deeply affected by both the visuals, the music and the story of the film, but also a wild chain of a question that Marc’s mother asks. at the end of the film : “What could you do if you could overcome the things that you consider limitations? Or the things you’re afraid of? What would you do?” Watching Marc live free and die wild while answering this question is what makes this movie almost as powerful as the mountains Marc climbed.

The Alpinist is a flawless look at cutting-edge mountaineering through the eyes of Marc André Leclerc, unquestionably one of the best mountaineers in the world, but also through the eyes and mind of a group of mountaineers from foreground who have survived what Messner calls an “indefensible” form of climbing that kills half of the people who practice it. Marc had an answer to the why of his incredible career, just like Alex Honnold in the film when he said with humor but with conviction: “These are just stupid questions”, but neither does anyone struggle with the carnage of the mountaineering is not either. be careful or died.

And that’s the genius of this movie: It rightfully and eloquently celebrates Marc’s incredible character and life in a way that will be on fire to everyone, but then it does what few movies do. ‘climbing: walking with the survivors after the fall. The visuals, music, editing and story are amazing and The mountaineer would have made a great movie if it ended as planned before Marc died. But, because directors Peter Mortimer and Nick Rosen continued filming after Marc died, well, that’s why you have to see it. Be inspired, cry and get your own cage seen violently shaken by Marc Andre’s cage-free life in the wildest places you’ve ever seen, and his death in the same.

I waited to see this film in Squamish, BC with a few thousand climbers, friends, Marc’s family and the filmmakers. I wanted to feel it with an audience in Marc’s community. Under the same large tent that housed Mark’s memorial, under a large wall that Mark regularly did solo, we all sat down for him and for each other. A standing ovation at the end led Marc’s family to speak. His brother, his mother, his father, his partner, Brett Harrington. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house, but somehow it was magically inspiring to hear their stories and support for the film.

What could have been terribly sad turned into a cathartic celebration of Marc which started with the film, caught fire with Marc’s family, then exploded into a sprawling evening of hula hoop dancing (see movie) that didn’t ended only the next day. . That the film can bring a whole community together says more than I can write.

The Alpinist screening in Squamish, British Columbia

© Brandon Peters

I watched the movie again in palm-fringed Los Angeles, where the Mountaineer poster hung on the chain’s wall along with Hollywood’s other offerings – all selling fictional stories of danger, excitement and change of life. The irony of the movies claiming to be all those things hanging with one that really had it all was delicious, but when we walked out of a dark theater into the fluorescent light, I could see in the eyes of the non-climbers that they also were deeply inspired, shaken and moved. A movie that can do this to both a basic rock climbing audience in Squamish and also a jaded Los Angeles is way bigger than just a rock climbing movie.

Mortimer tells the movie brilliantly, and you can feel both his respect for Marc and his frustration as he tries to get a wild man to sit in front of the camera, or even film his climbs. Because, in an Instagram reality world, Marc has absolutely no interest in being more famous, gets bored easily in interviews, and eventually heads for the hills to climb when he’s supposed to turn. It creates some really fun scenes as Mortimer scans Instagram to find out where his star climber has been (rock climbing is always the answer). Marc doesn’t even have a phone, which as a professional athlete seems impossible. It is only after making his climbs that Marc will let the film crew film, as Marc says, “If you are not alone, this is not a solo.” Mortimer can’t dispute this, but the fact that Marc was ready to return solo to the same wild terrain for the camera says a lot about Marc’s talent (imagine if Honnold had returned solo to the heart of El Cap for a few more times. both for the camera?) and its ethics. Mortimer and Rosen adapt, and we feel that they really accept Marc and vice versa.

A team of famous climbers give their thoughts on Marc’s climb (“Holy shit!”), And also offer insight into Peter’s question on “Why”, especially following the recent loss of so many. young and old mountaineers (Lama, Roskelly, Auer, and many others). The film could have looked away from the wreckage, but dive into it. If Marc or the other young climbers are successful then they are heroes. But if they die then… The quote from Alex Honnold in the movie of “If you fall and die everyone thinks you are an idiot, a risk taker, a daredevil. But if you are successful, everyone celebrates you as a great hero. But the reality is, you are the same person anyway! And it is a certain wisdom that all of us who take risks and celebrate escalation need to remember.

As the credits rolled through LA, I noticed that in the ‘special thanks’ section, the top three climbers on the list (Hayden Kennedy, David Lama, and Ueli Steck) all died. I cried again as the credits rolled by. My daughters were sitting with me watching me cry and climbing better as a result. “Don’t be a mountaineer,” I said to the elder, even though I knew that those who, as Blanchard said and Leclerc once lived, are called to be mountaineers will only listen to the call of nature. . To expect them to do otherwise is to put a wild wolf in a cage. But only the special, like Leclerc, will escape and show us what we could really do if we did everything we could to answer Marc’s mom’s question.

A film like this takes tremendous commitment and resources to make, and Sender and Red Bull Media House should all be very proud of it. It also took the trust of family and community, and it’s clear both in the movie and in the gatherings in Squamish and LA that Peter and Nick had and earned that trust. Thanks to everyone who was involved in the film for making it what it is, and especially to Marc’s family (including Brett Harrington) for giving us this film and Marc. Oh damn, I’m still crying thinking of all of you in the movie, thank you.

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Will Gadd

Known as the captain of the adventure, no challenge …

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