Mountain

In Cinemas Now

A cinematic and musical collaboration between Sherpa filmmaker Jennifer Peedom and the Australian Chamber Orchestra, exploring humankind's fascination with high places. Narrated - sparingly - by Willem Dafoe.

"Fellow collaborators to this unique project are British writer Robert Macfarlane (author of the award-winning Mountains of the Mind) and leading high altitude cinematographer Renan Ozturk (Sherpa, Meru). Richard Tognetti's recorded score is stunning; soaring as the camera climbs vertiginous slopes or swoops across rocky peaks. With all this earthly beauty, it's hard to believe that only three centuries ago, the idea of conquering a peak was considered crazy. Mountains were once solely places of peril, not beauty. The absorbing narration traces our modern day fascination – our irresistible and sometimes fatal attraction to the dizzying heights." (Sydney Film Festival)

Trailers

Directed by

Documentary

70mins

Rating: Exempt

Australia

Minimal narration from Willem Dafoe makes for engrossing viewing here that puts the emphasis squarely on spectacular footage of… mountains. Often playing tricks with one’s sense of scale, never mind inducing occasional vertigo (as the camera looks down an insanely long drop over the shoulder of an even more insane free climber, for example), Mountain is gripping and hypnotic, setting out to be poetic and awe-inducing, and succeeding on both fronts.

The film’s often unexpected camera movements play to the gut and heart as much as one’s eyes, director Jennifer Peedom delivering an unconventional, captivating experience that is more meditative and, well, “buzzy”, than a traditional documentary.

Yes, there’s a smidgen of commentary on modern mountaineering and extreme sports. And Dafoe muses Malick-ian at times about humans’ relationships with peaks. But more than anything else, Mountain harnesses spectacular helicopter and drone shots that linger and dazzle, engaging with the film’s majestic subjects in ways that offer so much more visually than the typical aerial unit establishing shots you’re familiar with in cinema.

As the camera moves towards, away from, and around summits and slopes in balletic fashion - in tandem with the Australian Chamber Orchestra’s score - there’s a cumulative effect of immersion and a growing sense of wonder. That’s if you’re in the right frame of mind for such things, though. This tonal poem of a film wants you to soak in it, it isn’t an experience that will reward those that can’t bring the requisite patience or willingness to let it wash over oneself.

Hollywood Reporter

press

One of the most visceral essay films ever made, with Peedom and her Sherpa altitude cinematographer Renan Ozturk unfurling a series of glistening images that should be seen only on the biggest of big screens.

The Guardian (UK)

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Despite its glorification of thrill-seeking, the message that runs through Mountain like rivulets over rocks is that our highest peaks are places to be revered and respected.

Urban Cinefile Australia (Louise Keller)

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The combination of the visual spectacle of the world's highest peaks and the musical magic of the Australian Chamber Orchestra makes Jennifer Peedom's documentary Mountain an immersive, meditative and mesmerising experience.

Urban Cinefile Australia (Andrew L. Urban)

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Sublime, cerebral, poetic and musically evocative, Mountain takes us - it seems - to every mountain in the world in what appears to be a floating armchair, sometimes high above the peaks.

TimeOut (Sydney)

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The score, both original compositions and the works of Vivaldi, Chopin and Beethoven, are perfectly matched to the awe-inspiring imagery and if Mountain had gone full Fantasia and dispensed with commentary entirely it would have been a better film.

Adelaide Review

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This is certainly a film that needs to be seen and experienced on the big screen, and despite its minor flaws, proves quite a mountainous achievement.

Stuff.co.nz (Sarah Watt)

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You don't have to be a mountaineer or extreme adventurer to lose yourself (and occasionally your stomach) in a film like Mountain.

Sydney Morning Herald

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While these images eventually become repetitious, they are sublime.