Meru (2015)


(directors/writers: Jimmy Chin/Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi; cinematographer: Jimmy Chin/Renan Ozturk; editor: Bob Eisenhardt; music: J. Ralph; cast: Conrad Anker, Jimmy Chin, Renan Ozturk, Jon Krakauer, Jenni Lowe-Anker, Amee Hinkley, Grace Chin, Jeremy Jones; Runtime: 90; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Ms. Vasarhelyi, Mr. Chin and Shannon Ethridge; Music Box Films; 2015)

“There’s something cool about daredevils who are not afraid to defy death.

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

It was the Sundance audience award winner for documentaries. The close-ups of the climbers, the splendid photography of the climb, the surprising bad set-backs of the climbers, the avalanches, and the super-human effort to scale the 20,700 foot above sea level mountain and carry up the mountain over a hundred pounds of needed equipment without rope or sherpas, makes this a very tense film. Though it never gets deep into the climbers reasons for taking on the challenging mountain (though it points out none are narcissists and they are all mild-mannered) and the climbers lack of introspection makes it impossible to give the film much depth. But there’s something cool about daredevils who are not afraid to defy death.

The “Shark’s Fin” on Mount Meru in northern India is the spot for big wall climbers to tackle who are looking to make a name for themselves in the mountain climbing world. The adventure documentary records how three of the world’s best mountain climbers—Jimmy Chin, Conrad Anker, and Renan Ozturk—conquer that “impossible” Himalayan peak that has never been successfully scaled before.

Co-directors and co-writers, a wife-and-husband team, Jimmy Chin (one of the climbers) and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi, present an exciting sports documentary, one of the more intimate and better ones I recently have seen on this sub-genre subject. It offers the kind of narrative that makes me wonder why take such a risk, as watching this on film might get my juices flowing but not in a thousand years would I ever be induced into such craziness.