Monday, 11 September 2017

Film Review: Mountain

Directed by Australian documentarian Jennifer Peedom, Mountain is a unique cinematic and musical fusion that examines the power high places have on shaping our lives and dreams. 

A 74-minute odyssey that sees Peedom join forces with the Australian Chamber Orchestra, Mountain offers audiences a moving aural experience as well as a visual one, with the Richard Tognetti-lead orchestra matching the achingly beautiful cinematography with classical pieces from the likes of Beethoven and Vivaldi. With each aspect – music and images – given equal weight, Mountain is a strangely captivating cinematic experience that services a number of different purposes, making it hard to define.

On the one hand, it is a hypnotic ode to the maddening allure of mountaineering and the drive felt by those who feel the need to climb and conquer; it is a commentary on the ‘domestication’ and manipulation of the wilderness for contemporary recreational activities; and an examination of those who court danger and seek increasingly dangerous exploits at high altitudes.

It is also a love letter to the unquenchable geological power of mountains, as well as an exploration of shifting attitudes towards mountains throughout history, from reverence and worship to adventure and leisure, where mystery and the unknown was replaced with mastery and the owned. All this is tied together through soothing narration from Willem Dafoe, whose words are often poetic and enchanting.

Though I myself did not, you owe it to yourself to see this on as large a cinema screen as you can find, with an immersive sound system to boot. Even though it is scarcely longer than your average National Geographic special, Peedom’s stunning aerial photography – as it swings and soars and floats ethereally over snow-capped glaciers and clouds – is worth viewing on as large and loud a format as possible. 

The Verdict: 8/10

Mountain is an experience that is simultaneously absorbing and soothing, a symphony of music and moviemaking that holds your attention all the while informing and exciting.

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