|2015-10-22||Steve Gardiner||Movie Review: Meru|
It's not often that a movie can grip me, keep me on the edge of my seat for a full 90 minutes, but Meru does exactly that.
It's the story of three climbers attempting to climb Meru, a 21,850-foot peak in India. No, it's not as high as Everest, but it is extremely difficult and the selected route, The Shark's Fin, had denied dozens of world-class teams before.
In fact, the team of Conrad Anker, Jimmy Chin, and Renan Ozturk had failed on the peak the first time they tried it. That, however, did not stop them from returning to try again, in spite of a life-threatening accident to Ozturk and major life events for the other climbers.
Because of the serious nature of the climb, the group had to do their own filming. Chin, a renowned photographer with sterling credits, and Ozturk did most of the filming. Chin also directed the film and did a masterful job of capturing the intensity of the climb and the human drama that the ascent brought each of the climbers.
After their first attempt in 2008, the trio returned to Meru in 2011, determined to see it through to the end. Ozturk's injuries leave his participation questionable, but his resilience supports the overall theme of the film; the human spirit is strong beyond belief when the right people meet the right circumstances. That spirit and drive are evident throughout the film and provide the viewer with a powerful dose of inspiration. After watching Anker, who was the climber who discovered George Mallory's body on Everest, lead up steep pitches of ice and rock, and seeing the team spend days suspended thousands of feet up a granite face in the midst of serious storms, viewers can't help but examine problems and situations in their own lives from a new perspective.
The film is an interesting mix of climbing action shots interspersed with post-climb interviews with all three team members, as well as several segments featuring Jon Krakauer, Everest climber and author of Into Thin Air, the account of the 1996 tragedy on Mt. Everest. Through expert editing, the story features not only the Shark's Fin route, but the lives of the individual climbers. The mix of these stories and the dynamic adventure of the climb form an unforgettable viewing experience.